The main titles sequence for season one of True Detective was mesmerizing and, apparently, ripe for parody as we see in the new main titles sequence for Key & Peele.
The sequence was created by yU+co for the fourth season of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s Comedy Central sketch show. (The design studio has also created main titles for The Leftovers, The Bridge, and The Walking Dead among other shows.) “We were given the brief of creating a Key & Peele-style homage to the dark, gritty opening sequences that are currently popular on-air. They listed examples like Dexter, True Detective, and American Horror Story,” says yU+co art director Synderela Peng.
Clearly, True Detective won out when it came to the biggest influence on the yU+co team. “As designers we do our best to create something unique and original,” Peng says, “but in this case co-opting a familiar visual style was integral to the success of this parody, so we ran with it.”
The sequence was designed to reflect the dark edges of Key and Peele’s comedy while also revisiting some the duo’s best-known characters, including the crazy landlord, baby Forest Whitaker, Wendell with his action figures, the inner-city substitute teacher, and Meegan. “The sequence is primarily based on the idea of multiple personality disorder,” Peng explains. “Our original style frames showed numerous character faces spawning from one another, suggesting a psychotic break. This was combined with an inkblot graphic device from another concept that allowed for scenes to be revealed as if part of a Rorschach test.”
The yU+co creative team, which, in addition to Peng, was made up of creative director Garson Yu, designer Edwin Baker, lead animator Mert Kizilay and executive producer Carol Wong, only had three weeks to put the Key & Peele sequence together and relied on previously shot materials from the show along with live-action ink-bleed elements. “The biggest challenge was picking the right moments to feature in a brief 26 seconds–there were so many good ones,” Peng says.
Once they settled on the best moments, it was a matter of choreographing the scenes so that the overlays created their own interaction. “An example would be the MMA fighter with the racist dog emblazoned across his chest,” Peng says. “Fans would find humor in the individual scenes, but people watching it for the first time could appreciate the silliness of projecting a barking dog onto the torso of a dramatically flailing Keegan.”
In addition to the visuals, the music had to be just right, too. While The Handsome Family’s haunting “Far From Any Road” sets the tone for True Detective, Key & Peele‘s main titles are accompanied by a similarly haunting tune with partially undecipherable lyrics–“I think part of the lyrics say, ‘crazy, crazy, does as crazy,'” Peng muses–composed by Key & Peele composer Joshua Funk and sung by Peele.