Just the Lady Parts: True Detective Investigates the Mystery of Feminism


Just the Lady Parts is a new TV review series wherein Jezebel reviews just the lady parts.

During last night’s episode of True Detective, Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) asks his new partner Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) why she carries so many weapons. “Could you do this job if everyone you encountered could overpower you? I mean, forget police work. No man could walk around like that without going nuts,” she replies, then elaborates. “The fundamental difference between the sexes is that one of them can kill the other with their bare hands. Any man lays his hands on me, he’s gonna bleed out in under a minute.”

“Well, just so you know,” Ray responds, “I support feminism, mostly by having body image issues.”

Oh. Um. Thank you?

The conversation is one of True Detective screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto’s few attempts at discussing the female experience from an actual female perspective so if we’re giving points for trying, here you go, Nic, take a few. Of course, it’s all a bit reminiscent of Stella Gibson—the lead detective in the far more engaging procedural thriller The Fall—repeating Margaret Atwood’s oft-quoted “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them” line to a male colleague. The sentiment, though, is far less effective when filtered through Pizzolatto’s precious and grim signature dialogue. (Ray: “You know the expression about flies and honey?” Ani: “What the fuck do I want with a bunch of flies?”)

While it’s Ani’s past that’s steeped in mystery (in this episode, we learn that she grew up in a commune and that all of the other children she was raised with ended up dead or in jail), Ray remains the most difficult character to understand—not because he’s the complicated anti-hero that Pizzolatto likely wants him to be, but because half of what he says doesn’t make sense. I’m still trying to understand the logistics of his “I’ll come back and buttfuck your father with your mom’s headless corpse on this goddamn lawn” threat from last week and now I have to parse his convoluted and sarcastic thoughts on feminism? Seems like a lot of work for a show that so far has been low on intrigue.

At least Ray’s hitherto unseen wife Gena (played by Abigail Spencer) arrives to clear one thing up for us. “You’re bad, Ray,” she says. “You’re a bad person and you’re bad for my son.” It’s a genuine relief to see Velcoro called out for his dangerous and violent behavior so early in the season, especially when much of the previous episode was devoted to his rape revenge narrative. When Ray reminds Gena about “What I done for you,” she spits back, “You didn’t do that for me, Ray. Don’t you dare say you did that for me.”

As it turns out, a woman needs a Velcoro like a fish needs a bicycle. Or a crow needs a shotgun, which, by the way, comes up later when Velcoro is shot twice in the chest and possibly killed by a person in a crow mask. (Putting aside our LADY PARTS focus for a second, I’ve got to say that killing off one of True Detective’s headlining actors in the season’s second episode would be a bold fucking move.)

Taking a trip to the other side of 8 Mile, we’re introduced to the trailer park-residing mother of Paul Woodrough (Taylor Kitsch). The mom is an inappropriate mess, a fact that the show hammers home by placing a giant herpes sore on her lip and having her behave overwhelmingly flirtatiously with her own son. (While fiction maintains otherwise, I feel like I should point out that there are indeed good parents who A. live in trailer parks and B. have cold sores.) Paul’s personal traumas—which include a Blackwater-esque incident while working for “Black Mountain Security” as a mercenary in the Middle East and (what I suspect is) a deeply closeted homosexuality—are quickly building up and mom’s spaghetti is but one more issue to add to the pile.

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Image via HBO.

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