The show is way more pretentious than this photo would have you believe. (via HBO)

If you haven't been watching HBO's True Detective on Sunday nights, that's a shame, because you're not only missing out on one of the best shows on TV right now, you're missing out on some great opportunities to make yourself sound really smart in front of friends and co-workers. Somehow, what looks to be an above-average police procedural is actually a bubbling cauldron of quantum physics gobbledygook, canibus-foggy philosophy and nightmarish inter-dimensional horror. And I mean that in the very best possible way. So, watch the show, and then come back here and memorize these bits of guaranteed-to-impress commentary:

1. "Obviously, you can't truly appreciate 'True Detective' if you're not familiar with Robert W. Chambers' 'The King in Yellow.'"

The King in Yellow is a collection of weird horror stories—concerning an eponymous play that drives to insanity all those who dare to watch or read its dialogue—which 99% of us never heard of before reading Michael M. Hughes' "The One Literary Reference You Must Know to Appreciate ​True Detective" on io9 last week. Miraculously, every blowhard with an HBO Go subscription, like myself, is suddenly an expert in the "legendary city of Carcosa" and the significance of "black stars," especially in so far as they are vaguely referenced by redneck prophet Reggie Ledoux. So, make sure you throw that card out early in any True Detective conversation, or you might have to cede the alpha pretension position.

2. "You realize, of course, that Ledoux and Cohle's 'Time is a flat circle' metaphor is all borne out by String Theory."

Let's face facts: Anytime you can use a pretentious comment about String Theory, you totally should. As soon as the discussion of the show turns to Rusty Cohle's deposition monologue about time being "a flat circle" and his beer-can explanation about the "M-brane theory"—and it will—make sure you seize the opportunity to point out how that's all just a form of String Theory involving 11 dimensions of spacetime that are theorized to loop around on themselves. You can read all about M Theory here, but you really don't need to. Nobody understands this shit, regardless of how much they read.

I still don't understand it, but I like hearing Michio Kaku explain it.

3. "I take it you realize that Rustin Cole's depressing world view is based upon the antinatalist-nihilist writings of Thomas Ligotti and E.M. Cioran."

Most of us never heard of Thomas Ligotti or E.M. Cioran until just recently. And "antinatalist nihilism" is something about which the vast majority of us only have a passing understanding. Still, that's not stopping us from throwing these references around, so it shouldn't stop you. In this Wall Street Journal interview, True Detective creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto explains how he allowed these authors' pessimistic view of life to seep from Cohle's mouth, such as when he tells Hart that "the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction" (a near-direct quote of Ligotti, by the way). "[N]obody I’ve read has expressed the idea of humanity as aberration more powerfully than Cioran and Ligotti," Pizzolatto explained. Sounds like fun reading!

4. "I was pleasantly surprised to see a reference to John Money's 'paraphilic lovemap' pop up in the first episode. Weren't you?"

According to sexologist John Money, a lovemap is "a developmental representation or template in the mind and in the brain depicting the idealized lover and the idealized program of sexual and erotic activity projected in imagery or actually engaged in with that lover." At least, that's what Wikipedia says he says. And I know that a paraphilia is a sexual deviancy. So, when Rustin Cohle looks at a naked antlered murder victim in Episode 1 and says that her "body is a paraphilic lovemap," I think it's safe to assume that that means something smart. Thus, it's the perfect reference to drop. Plus, you can use the phrase for practically anything sex-related. (For example, "I am curious to learn where this bottle of Astroglide is located on your paraphilic lovemap.")

You might have missed your chance to use this Valentine's Day card this year,
but time is a flat circle, so you'll get your chance. 
(via redditor cowbellemoo)

5. "Did you happen to notice that True Detective went meta when it broke the fourth wall on Sunday?"

There's some Internet chatter this week about the possibility that True Detective went meta and broke the fourth wall during the M Theory monologue we discussed in #2. Cohle references "4th dimensional observers." According to this theory, we, the viewing audience, are those 4th dimensional observers. I don't know about that. But what I do know is that I will be bringing this up in conversation asap.

(by Dennis DiClaudio)

Sources: io9 | Wall Street Journal