Guest / Limited Access /
The Oldest Story: Broadchurch and True Detective
Patrick Redmond
Arthur Darvill, David Tennant, and Olivia Colman in 'Broadchurch'

Note: No key plot spoilers! Nothing you couldn’t get from the synopsis. I promise.

Last night, I finished Broadchurch.

In preparation for the premiere of Gracepoint this fall on FOX, I’ve been watching the British show on which it’s based. Both shows are about a sleepy coastal town that gets rocked by the murder of a young boy. The resulting investigation leaves its mark.

The names give away the show’s interest in exploring, carefully and quietly, the relationship between what goes on in heaven and what happens here down on earth. It wants to know whether what we do here triggers punishments or, perhaps more importantly, whether there’s anyone up there who cares at all, or whether we’ve been abandoned.

What I was thinking about as I watched was how much it reminded me of True Detective (though, hear me on this: that show is far, far more brutal and graphic). In both, detectives sense that a sort of salvation rides on what they’re doing. Both are about investigations into unthinkable murders that wind up unearthing the darkest secrets. They’re also both beautifully shot and powerfully directed in ways we rarely see on television.

But there’s one very important thing both shows do, something that Christians, frankly, need to do better in their storytelling: they understand intuitively that sin is both a personal and a corporate matter. Sin is something in people’s hearts, and it’s also something that permeates a community. And when something goes wrong in a community, rarely is the perpetrator the only one at fault.

In True Detective, it becomes clear that the evil within the community is far more pervasive than one man. It starts high and slides ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
Previous Watch This Way Columns:
Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Tags:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueThe Wrath the World Needs
Subscriber Access Only The Wrath the World Needs
An excerpt from ‘The Crucifixion,’ CT's 2017 Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year.
RecommendedThe Most Uncomfortable Christmas Verse
The Most Uncomfortable Christmas Verse
"But women will be saved by childbearing," may not mean what you think it means.
Trending‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
Islamic extremism now has a rival, according to 2017 World Watch List.
Editor's PickLatasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
Latasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
The founder of Be the Bridge reveals her vision for solving America's race problem.
Christianity Today
The Oldest Story: Broadchurch and True Detective
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

August 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.