MBTI: Marty Hart and Rust Cohle- ESTJ and ISTP
As common as ESTJs and ISTPs are in fiction, it’s rare that they’re written as well as they have been on HBO’s True Detective.
Though combative and depressing, detectives Marty and Rust are two characters that see the job through to the end, much like their respective types. If they don’t kill each other first, of course.
As far as ESTJs go, Marty fits well. His family life, his habits, and his general way of life are that of a Te/Si leader. He knows what he knows and normally doesn’t care for those things to be questioned. He sees how everything fits into his life and doesn’t like change. And though this alone doesn’t scream ESTJ, it is a start. His real character comes into focus when we see his interaction with the nihilistic Rust Cohle, our resident ISTP.
Rust has been typed as many things due to the depth of the writing, the ramblings, and his overall weirdness. INTP seems likely in many ways, but much of the differentiation of an ISTP rant about the pointlessness of it all, space and time, etc. and an INTP’s version is the outlook of it all. Let me explain.
While intuitive types focus on the big picture regularly and easily forget the details of everyday life (thereby making them intuitive), sensors are, of course, the opposite. So what does this say about Rust? The man with quotes that fans and general skeptics will be proclaiming relativity to for years to come?
Rust: I think the honorable thing for our species to do is to deny our programming. Stop reproducing. Walk hand in hand into extinction. One last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.
Rust is an example of a man that looks at the bigger picture and is overwhelmed by it. He doesn’t awe in inspiration and glory but sneers at it and shakes his head. While an intuitive might take pride in their perspective on the grand scheme of things, sensors can become depressed and aggravated by it.
Because they can’t understand something so complex while intuitive types breeze through it all with a smile on their face? No. But because focusing on something so great can cause someone whose “natural programming” is to deal with the daily aspects of life; the sensory and concrete. How can a world be this disgusting and still have a greater purpose? Rust asks.
One of the great things about the show is the balance you get with two sensory characters that hardly like each other is that you get both sides of the picture; no need for an intuitive/sensor team-up, just two characters that disagree. For every long-winded rant that Rust goes into, Marty rolls his eyes and brushes him off.
Rust: [After a rant]…You asked.
Marty: Yeah, and now I’m BEGGING you to shut the **** up.
Marty may be a cheater and a drinker, but he brings much needed levity to the show as ESTJs do in fiction, often times in the form of an annoyed police chief telling his two rogue detectives to turn in their badge and gun. ESTJs have no problems dismissing others they find to be incredible or disreputable. While others keep an open mind maybe even to the point of not knowing what they believe, the ESTJ’s dominant functions keep them centered and secure in their beliefs…which they have turned into personal rules that aren’t up for debate.
“People give you rules. Rules describe the shape of things.” -Marty
Rules that often have him scoffing at Rust’s ideas about the case, yet send him into a blind rage that end in him shooting a handcuffed suspect in the face when faced with the truth he’d previously denied. That’s Inferior Fi for you.
Even though he has multiple affairs, Marty still becomes extremely defensive when it comes to his wife and family, getting in Rust’s face when Rust calls him out for his affair and even beating on the two boys that attempted to sleep with his daughter. Much like an ESTJ, they have rules and standards that not everyone understands but they keep to them religiously.
And speaking of religion, Rust himself has some pretty interesting thoughts. It still touches on the idea that for Rust to make sense of a belief in a higher power, he must shrink it down and deconstruct what he hears/sees/experiences as strong Ti users do. But in Rust’s case, he does this in a manner that views religion as something of a “language virus.”
Concepts and ideas that are infinite and all-powerful to some becomes insipid and unnecessary to the ISTP, whose firm beliefs are simplicity and usefulness. If the ISTP sees the idea, tool, or what have you as too much, it’s quickly dismissed as irrelevant and pointless. This often leads others to seeing them as judgmental and disrespectful. Because at times, it is.
These two detectives sharing the reverse functions, Mirror relations as Socionics calls it (ESTJ- Te/Si/Ne/Fi, ISTP- Ti/Se/Ni/Fe), it often allows partners to view different sides of the same problem. An area of confidence for one partner is the weakness of the other and vice versa. Think Batman and Joker. Stoic and righteous versus laughing and chaotic. Black and white, heads and tails.
This is clear with Marty and Rust as one can handle the people and higher ups who have to give the go-ahead with certain investigations, etc. while Rust is pretty much anti-social.
And though Rust’s comment on him and Marty’s partnership is harsh (“Without me, there IS no you.”), there is truth that Rust’s superb skills as an investigator kept the case going….But once again, without Marty, Rust is just some guy with a bunch of “crazy” theories. He needs Marty to make them presentable and sensible.
ESTJ and ISTP- two peas in an angry pod.