Why True Detective Season 2 Failed, According To HBO's President

True Detective Season 2 wasn’t as bad as it was way less good than its first iteration, but because it didn’t reach such great heights as Season 1, it’s been the punchline of a lot of jokes. Critics and audiences have widely seen True Detective Season 2 as a failure, and now HBO President Michael Lombardo has spoken out in a recent interview to explain why he thinks True Detective ultimately failed this time around. His answer is extremely surprising. Check it out:

When we tell somebody to hit an air date as opposed to allowing the writing to find its own natural resting place, when it’s ready, when it’s baked — we’ve failed. And I think in this particular case, the first season of True Detective was something that Nic Pizzolatto had been thinking about, gestating, for a long period of time. He’s a soulful writer. I think what we did was go, ‘Great.’ And I take the blame. I became too much of a network executive at that point. We had huge success. ‘Gee, I’d love to repeat that next year.’

It’s very, very unusual for a network to take the blame for the failure of a TV show, but in a lot of ways True Detective Season 2 was a success. Live viewership was mostly up during Season 2 when compared to Season 1, and HBO has already stated that the network would like to give True Detective a third season, should showrunner Nic Pizzolatto wish to put that season together. (Pizzolatto is under an overall deal with HBO until 2018.) Lombardo also told The Frame that he specifically is to blame for rushing the showrunner to delivery rather than giving him the time to create a season he could wholly be proud of.

Well, you know what? I set him up. To deliver, in a very short time frame, something that became very challenging to deliver. That’s not what that show is. He had to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Find his muse. And so I think that’s what I learned from it. Don’t do that anymore.

Creating a TV show is extremely tough work. Over at HBO, George R.R. Martin has often talked about the tough process of banging new episodes of Game of Thrones out faster than he can possibly put them down on paper. It’s a strain, and some showrunners are much better at taking on that strain than others are. (Plus some get a lot longer to develop their seasons.) Nic Pizzolatto, in fact, took years to write every episode of the first season of True Detective Season 1. But then it seems as if HBO wanted him to churn out Season 2 in a little over a year. He made the deadline, but the quality clearly suffered. Obviously HBO has learned from its mistake, and I'm guessing if we get a third season of True Detective it will look a lot different and will air fairly far down the line.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.