After seven weeks of mainlining the psychosphere, HBO's engrossing True Detective ends tonight. Whether you think the Yellow King is a boat or you're the kind of deeply disturbed person who thinks Maggie was involved with the conspiracy, there will be no second season of shit-talking about time and flat circles with Marty and Rust. But don't distress—we're living in a golden age of television, and there are plenty of amazing programs on the air that are well worth checking out for TD fans.
Simply put, Hannibal is the most daring, sinister, gorgeously-filmed program ever to air on network TV—and perhaps premium cable as well. If the creepy atmosphere of True Detective is one of the things that kept you coming back every week, then Hannibal is your next best bet. There are cases of the week sometimes, but they are always in service of the mood, which tends toward the nightmarish side of dream logic. The show is filled with horrible ritualistic deaths reminiscent of Dora Lange, but it never takes the psychological toll for granted. Star Mads Mikkelsen is revelatory as the title character, Lawrence Fishburne is doing his best work in years, and the deep wells of tension between Hannibal and FBI agent Will Graham keep the proceedings thoroughly thrilling.
It doesn't have the obsessive mythology True Detective fans have been beside themselves about, but this BBC import shares a deep, psycho-sexual theme with the HBO drama. DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) tracks a serial killer who rapes, tortures and poses his victims, not unlike the mysterious Yellow King. The killer, Paul Spector—played by soon to be Christian Grey heartthrob Jamie Dornan—leads a double life as family man and bereavement counselor, concealing his true nature from everyone around him. The five episode first season—now streaming on Netflix—tracks both DSI Gibson's pursuit of her target, as well as Spector's escalating urge to kill. A flawed detective, a killer with a flair for the dramatic and a superlative script make this a must-watch for fans of deeply unsettling cop dramas. (Nell Casey)
Were you taken by True Detective's slow-moving exploration of masculinity and morality? Then you should check out Sundance's little-seen Rectify, which follows the story of Daniel Holden, played by Aden Young; Holden sat on death row for 19 years for raping and killing his girlfriend as a teen, but new DNA evidence seemingly exonerates him. The show deals with the fallout from Holden returning home. As the AV Club put it, the show's "suffused with lush photography, powered by difficult questions about morality, and illuminated by a time-hopping narrative that pretty much makes it True Detective without that jaundiced jackass in the crown ruining every shot."
Perhaps you weren't so happy with how True Detective treated its female characters—then The Americans, one of the best new shows of 2013, is the perfect remedy. The show, which recently kicked off its second season on FX, takes place in Washington, D.C. in the 1980s, and features the most kick-ass, complicated, prickly heroine on television in Kerri Russell. There are amazingly bad wigs, triple agents, and complicated spy shenanigans, but don't mistake this for some goofy nostalgia trip: the show brilliantly uses its cold war backdrop and suspenseful action scenarios as a jump-off point to deeply explore the struggles and complications of love and marriage.
Top Of The Lake
The mysterious disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl might be the surface focus of this outstanding New Zealand mini-series, but it's the way the mystery shapes the people around it that makes Top of the Lake such a compelling watch. Much like obsession colors the lives of True Detective's dark heroes, Detective Robin Griffin—played with haunting sincerity by Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, who won the Golden Globe for her performance—gets swallowed up by her case, allowing her personal connection to the victim to rule her process. Instead of dusty Louisiana fields we get a lush yet sinister and remote mountain town in New Zealand town that's equally capable of concealing horrors perpetrated within its forests. A strange and captivating performance by Holly Hunter and arrestingly beautiful cinematography elevate this mini-series into more than just a routine missing persons story. (Nell Casey)