Saturday, August 8, 2015

We play a team sport, people

Flashback a few years. I authored a little book about social media for American Crew. It was designed like crazy by Brian Suter (never forgotten). And it was lauded by something like 900 blogs. To which my friend and creative partner Sean shrugged, "Shocker. Social media dorks think a book about social media is cool."


I bring this up because of True Detective's second season, which has not been the humungous disappointment some have claimed, but which hasn't lived up to season one even a little, either.

In the publicity run-up, the press abetted a vaguely gross amount of mythologizing around series creator / writer / producer / showrunner / genius Nic Pizzolatto. Which made sense. Typically, the person who writes the script is considered a nerdy adjunct to the director, the star and the producer. But Pizzolatto bucked Hollywood's heirarchy and took control of his own vision. To most of us writers, that makes him the goddamn Batman. So for six straight months, you had a bunch of journalists basically fetishizing one of their own.

"Shocker. Writer dorks think a writer is cool."

For season two, Pizzolatto doubled down on this legend, forsaking his art-dude partner Cary Fukunaga for a rotating cast of episode directors. And burdened by the expectations that go along with following genius, they've almost all royally fucked everything up. (Stop with the pensive staring. Seriously, assholes, stop it!)

Writing and art are wonderful solo enterprises. But film and advertising are team sports. And when writers nix designers (or vice versa), shit goes haywire.

Which isn't to say I don't love season two. I do. I love it as interesting writing, immersive plotting, and open-letter love-mashing on James Ellroy. I love the characters and I've watched every episode, most twice. But season one was a black swan event brought on by a team of visionaries. A team. And at the risk of resorting to cliche, if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.

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