HBO Levels On True Detective Season 2 Disappointment, Points To Rushed Script

True Detective

Lofty expectations and a bigger scope may have loomed over True Detective season 2 before it hit the airwaves, but for all of HBO’s ambition, the sophomore outing of the network’s dark and brooding crime drama was a far cry from what came before.

Adopting the anthology format, season 2 hit the hard reset button, ushering in a stellar cast that included Rachel McAdams, Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn in lieu of Woody Harrleson and Matthew McConaughey. It was an ensemble that stoked a feverish sense of excitement that maybe – just maybe – True Detective could recapture the success on its second run. Sadly, stop-start pacing and a script lacking in character development led to HBO’s second crack at the whip being chalked up as a disappointment.


Taking the blame for the show’s second stint, HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo recently spoke with The Frame about learning from mistakes, and why many of the criticisms levelled at True Detective season 2 can be attributed to a rushed schedule.

“I’ll tell you something. Our biggest failures — and I don’t know if I would consider True Detective 2 — but 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.’”

Drafting in multiple writers throughout the season, it’s evident that the show suffered from the ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ conundrum, though series director Cary Fukunaga conceded that he wasn’t involved much at all when compared to the maiden season.

Further in the interview, Lombardo assured fans that the same mistake won’t happen twice.

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.’ “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.

Ardent fans of the True Detective formula will likely wait for actions over words, but it’s refreshing that HBO is taking the criticism on board before deciding the future of its crime noir.