The detective genre is relatively new to the history of art. Arising during the mid-nineteenth century as a distinct form alongside the umbrella of speculative fiction. While many famous artistic figures have detective shows that expressed their opinions on what warrants prestige within the genre, it’s clear that modern audiences crave cinematic representations.
Here are 6 Irresistible Television Shows That Fall Within The Detective Genre of Detective Shows:
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Would any list concerning detective shows be complete without mentioning perhaps the most adapted character in film history? Probably not. But the most recent version, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes has been fearless in changing the stakes. Mark Gatiss, the director of Sherlock has been particularly vocal about his desire to update the tale for modern audiences.
Not only is the series unusually structured by featuring four seasons of three episodes each. But the story is set in present-day London and eschews the more “slow” elements of the original story. Martin Freeman, who won an Emmy for his role is also excellent as Sherlock’s moralistic sidekick.
An extension of the 1990 cult-classic, Twin Peaks is unique despite featuring similar characters and themes as the original. Set 25 years after the initial story. This eerie concoction includes all the traditional Lynchian tropes: unconventional storylines, macabre themes, dreamy ambiance.
The series centers around Kyle MacLachlan as Special Agent Dale Cooper. But does associatively in typical Lynchian fashion. Perhaps, the most disturbing element of the show is not the violence and bloodshed. But rather the mysteries introduced by this structure.
Certainty and clarity become the true objects of investigation in this cerebral celebration of the detective genre.
An anthology series, True Detective is another show that features a nonlinear structure with incredible performances. This is must-see television solely because of Matthew McConaughey’s depiction of jaded homicide investigator Rust Cohle in Season 1.
In addition to the acting, the show dabbles with riveting philosophy and supernatural elements all within the confines of the traditional crime-detective genre.
If Twin Peaks is perhaps the genre taken to its arthouse extreme and Sherlock is a more conservative approach then True Detective lies somewhere in between with its stunning cinematography, long-takes, and absurd attention to detail.
Another show that has been lauded for breaking the mold of the traditional detective category. Fargo innovates by infusing the genre with a peculiar kind of Coenian black-comedy. It is almost more comedic than it is tragic and is inspired by the feature film of the same name from 1996. But, the comedy is subtle and hovers beneath the surface of a darker set of plot twists which spin out of control like something out of a Kafka novel. Like True Detective, it is an anthology series and is executive produced by the Coen Brothers which assures that it retains many of the themes of the original film.
Fargo is a critical watch for lovers of detective shows. Because it brings a necessary element of lightness to the dark genre which only serves to emphasize the themes all the more.
Dexter is must-see TV just on the premise alone. A forensic technician specializing in blood splatter analysis doubles as a morally dubious serial killer who hunts other serial killers. Ethics and archetypes aside, this is incredible storytelling on a basic narrative level.
Dexter can be appreciated for the pleasant, dry humor of its anti-hero. The sleek production of the series, or the deeper theme of the beneficent potential for evil within us all. Unlike True Detective, whose philosophy is overtly expressed and has even inspired a book, Dexter is slightly subtler with its provocations.
However, that such provocations can be ignored. As the plot points build up over the course of the series until they explode in the mind of the viewer.
Speaking of premises, this is one for the ages. A High School chemistry teacher who morphs into a meth dealer to fund his cancer treatment. Portrayed by the incomparable Bryan Cranston, the notoriously named Walter White belies his gentle, innocent small-town persona.
He is gritty, gory, and uncompromising in his quest to heal. Though somewhere along the way he gets lost, as all anti-hero’s do, what distinguishes this show from others is the creator Vince Gilligan who infuses the show with a poetical quality that must be witnessed to be understood.
Final Thoughts of Detective Shows
It is evident from these six must-watch shows that modern television has been unusually innovative in its craft. And beginning to dissolve the boundaries between art forms. Television is exploring themes and structures that have only been traditionally explored in cinema and literature specifically within the detective genre.
While shows discussed above share a degree of originality, they also conform to the genre and thus satisfy our craving for historical noir elements.