The Women Of True Detective

January 28, 2014

True Detective, three weeks in, is already looking like HBO’s next Big Thing. Although it goes at a season-1-of-Mad-Men pace (that is, real slow), the depth of the characters and the intricacy of the plot is exciting. There’s reason to keep watching, for sure.

This is a male-focused show, of course — in Woody Harrelson (Mary Hart) and Matthew McConaughey (Rust Cohle), we have two more potential anti-heroes to add to our growing stack. But there are women around, too, namely Marty’s wife (Michelle Monaghan) and his mistress (Alxandra Daddario). Both women have already given us a lot to think about.

In addition to these characters, there are other women in the air. There’s the primary victim Dora, who we will never meet. There’s her mother, Mrs. Kelly (Tess Harper). There’s Lucy, the madam of the brothel where Dora used to work (Alyshia Ochse). And there are the rest of the women Rust and Marty seek out in the hopes of finding Dora.

Let’s meet them.


Maggie Hart 

Maggie Hart is a mid-90s version of Betty Draper. She spends her days at home with the kids, waiting for her husband to get back from his all-consuming job. She suspects affairs.

It’s not clear yet how long she’ll stick with Marty. And she certainly doesn’t take her situation lying down. In the most-recent episode, she sought solace from her husband’s partner, Rust — Maggie and Rust seem to share an emotional depth that Marty lacks. Or maybe it’s just a loneliness.

Either way, Maggie’s eyes are deep, wounded and fierce. As the show goes on, I think she’ll reveal a lot about the female experience.


Michelle Monaghan 

Michelle (who is 38 years old and very beautiful) looks very familiar to me, and I think it’s because of my brief stint as a fan of Boston Public, in which she played Kimberly for one season. But she’s also been on SVU as well as starring in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and, in 2006, Mission: Impossible III.

HBO's "True Detective" Season 1 / Director: Cary Fukunaga

Lisa Tragnetti

Lisa is Marty’s younger mistress. When we meet her she gets naked and handcuffs Marty. Right afterwards, though, she asserts herself: Marty, in the midst of the case, warns her to stay inside. She says she’d rather go out.

We learn that Lisa may be in danger as a result of Marty’s intense jealousy (and her belief that their affair has run its course).


Alexandra Daddario

Alexandra’s biggest role so far has been Annabeth in Percy Jackson And The Olympians. But I recognize her as Rachel from Parenthood(the assistant who kissed Adam — AHH painful memories).

She’s also been on Law & OrderIt’s Always SunnyNurse Jackie… basically, she’s been around. She’s 27.


Mrs. Kelly

We don’t learn much about Mrs. Kelly — we only see her for one scene. But she’s quite memorable as a woman who has lost a lot.

Tess Harper has been around since the early 80s, but her most prominent role was as Jesse’s long-suffering mother on Breaking Bad.


Call Girl

This woman (Kate Adair) offers Rust more than prescription pills, but he’s not interested. She gives him the tip about Dora’s old brothel, leading to a series of new discoveries.



This is Dora. The show revolves around her death and the life that led up to it.



Beth (Lili Simmons) is a prostitute who knew Dora. Marty is deeply bothered by her age (though she doesn’t really look that young to me). I have a feeling we’ll see more of Beth.


Lucy is the madam of the brothel. Though her role is small (so far), she identifies something central to the show when she says the following:

“Girls walk this earth all the time screwin’ for free. So why is it you add business to the mix and boys like you can’t stand the thought? I’ll tell you. It’s cause suddenly you don’t own it the way you thought you did.”

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