Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Mahershala Ali is... the True Detective

Illustration for article titled Mahershala Ali is... the True Detective
Photo: Warrick Page (HBO)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Sunday, January 13. All times are Eastern. 


Top pick

True Detective (HBO, 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., third season premiere): Emily L. Stephens wrote her last True Detective review in 2015, back when Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams were the true detectives. A lot has happened in the world since that time, and one of the things that happened—one of the good things, in fact—is that Mahershala Ali won a goddamn Oscar.

He’s been busy since then, but made time to convince Nic Pizzolatto that rather than play the supporting role he’d been offered in the third season of True Detective, he should play the lead.

Ali, to EW:

“And I was like, ‘I think your story would be served. I think the story would improve in this case if this lead character is black,’” Ali continued. “We don’t have to beat them over the head with the race element, but let’s write it. I’m encouraging him to think of it from the standpoint of how it’s experienced. Racism is not experienced as the N-word all the time, right? It’s more like, he wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Or like I said, thank you — he just brushed me off. And so I came back to [Nic] and I was like, ‘I want to play that part.’ And he thought about it a couple of days, got back to me, and he was like, ‘Yo, let’s do this. I’m down.’”

It’s 2019, and time is a flat circle, for Emily L. Stephens is ready to dive back into the world of True Detective. Episodes one and two air back to back tonight.

Regular coverage

The Simpsons (Fox, 8 p.m.)
Outlander (Starz, 8 p.m.)
Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 8:30 p.m.)


Wild card

American Style (CNN, 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., series premiere): This four-part documentary looks at, as you might guess, American style, and the ways fashion has reflected the sociopolitical and economic realities of the country and the world. Looking at “iconic moments from fashion and pop culture,” the series will use archival footage and expert interviews to give audiences giving “a front row seat to the runway of American history.” That’s all a long way of saying that what we wear says a lot about where and when we exist. Among those interviewed will be Tim Gunn, Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg, André Leon Talley, Beverly Johnson, and John Varvatos. The first two episodes will air tonight, and the remaining two tomorrow. We’re into it.


Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!