I’ve been living in New Orleans my entire life, so I really have not had much outsider’s perspective to allow me to truly appreciate my home. I thought it was just another city with a unique downtown area, but not much more than that. Then I landed an extra role on HBO’s recently concluded True Detective. I was initially hesitant about the quality of the show due to the usually typecast actors, the beyond cliche name, a first-time writer, and the general rule that New Orleans has been getting less lauded show and movie contracts. It had so much going against it on paper, but I was wrong on every level.

Location from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
There are tons of these in the Norco area outside of New Orleans. It is known as “Cancer Alley” for its abundance of refineries and, well, high cancer stats. (photo by Ryan Callegari)

I got the feeling that this was something great after watching 2 episodes. Of course, I knew I may have been biased since it was a show I was minutely involved in, but any forums I checked backed up that it wasn’t just that.

Locations from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
Location from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
This deserted area went downhill a while ago and is now only home to a Central American restaurant, a thift shop, and a kung fu academy. However, once every year there is a nice Parish (LA equivalent to a county) Fair here. Aside from this wasteland, everything around it is still busy and lively. Jefferson, Louisiana. (photo by Ryan Callegari)

I started noticing all of these places in my everyday life popping up in the show, only re-envisioned and dramatized transform the mundane into dark, drab, or mysterious. It was almost funny to me, my old under-age drinking spots are now immortalized.

Location from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
Location from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
This is the Bonnet Carre Spillway. When the Mississippi River gets too high, it is drained into this wide area for relief. Most of the time it is used for fishing and offroad sports. Desolate, drab, and perfect for a show like True Detective. (photo by Ryan Callegari)

I began to realize how unique my hometown actually is. It’s a place where buildings are abandoned then re-purposed for decades at a time, enveloping vegetation and slow decay become a trademark in some respects, a nearly mile-long street can be made up solely of bars and clubs, and a region of about 400,000 people happen to know each other through no more than three connections. It is a giant small town.

Location from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
Also in the Bonnet Carre Spillway. This was a damn hard place to find in the middle of nowhere. Everything is gone aside from some trash, superficially charred wood, and a few shotgun shells. The shells may be from hunters. (photo by Ryan Callegari)
The infamous school from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
Doesn’t look much different from the show. It only recently has been used as a parking space for state vehicles. Kenner, Louisiana. (photo by Ryan Callegari)

So here is a little view of what True Detective portrays compared to the real world. I took these shots over the span of the show’s run, and most of them were within two miles of my house. I may take more eventually (including the infamous Carcosa), but, for now, this is a small glimpse into a much more honest portrayal of a fictional serial killer’s stomping ground.

Location from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
Location from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
The woman that runs the donut shop said the director was so specific that he made sure even the cars parked outside had to have 1994 brake tags. Harahan, Louisiana. (photo by Ryan Callegari)
The bar where Rust takes Ginger to meet his meth contact (2014, HBO, screen capture)
This isn’t a bar. It’s a closed down fishing shop. The interior was shot somewhere else. Norco, Louisiana. (photo by Ryan Callegari)
Location from True Detective (2014, HBO, screen capture)
Chalmette, Louisiana. (photo by Ryan Callegari)



This blog post was written by Ryan Callegari and the photos were taken from Ryan’s post on Reddit. Check his post As promised, here is my collection of True Detective scene location shots! for many more photos.

1 Comment
  1. Episode 3 – the steel and wood bridge where detectives met the Cajun crab trapper to get a lead. Lake Judge Perez and Hermitage Lake, by the fire station at the end of a long road that cuts off of River Road on the west side of the River, below Belle Chase.

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