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HBO blames itself for 'True Detective' season 2

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Lacey Terrell/HBO

So, yes, about True Detective season 2. Who’s to blame? 

Most would say the perceived shortcomings of the less-than-loved second season of the breakout hit fell on writer-producer Nic Pizzolatto — as he’s the showrunner and HBO gives its creative talent a rather large amount of leeway to make the series they really want. 

But in a new interview, HBO’s programming president Michael Lombardo put the blame on himself — for pushing Pizzolatto too hard, too soon for a new season.

“Our biggest failures — and I don’t know if I would consider True Detective 2 [a failure] — 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, you know, 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.’ Well, you know what? I set him up to deliver, in a very short time frame, something that I think 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. … I’m not going to start betting on them until the scripts are done.” 

Every writer’s process is unique, of course, and certainly as we’ve seen this week, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin certainly makes a case that some writers need more time than others (“deadlines just stress me out,” Martin wrote). But for most writers working in television, getting a year and a half to make just eight episodes would be considered rather luxurious.

HBO recently signed Pizzolatto to a new overall deal which will likely include more True Detective, though the network might shift the organization of the show behind the scenes.