Let's not beat around the bush: True Detective's second season has not lived up to the quality of the first. Suffering from a myriad of problems, including poor dialogue, too many freeway shots, a boring central plot, and less-than-intriguing characters, Season 2 has been widely criticized by critics and fans alike. Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Michael Lombardo, president of HBO programming, delicately side-stepped questions about whether or not he thought the show's criticism was unfounded, choosing instead to praise the series' creator, Nic Pizzolatto.
"What [Nic's] doing on True Detective is so much bolder and braver than so much of what I see in film," he said. "I think [he] is one of the best writers working in television and motion pictures today."
Calling Pizzolatto "enormously talented," "one of the best writers working in television," and a "bold storyteller" who takes risks with pacing, Lombardo said that True Detective was a show that was best viewed as a whole and Season 2 will pay off in the end. "I think you need to watch the entirety of it," he said. "The show ends as satisfying as any show I've seen."
Lombardo's comments might be an acceptable argument for a company like Netflix, which releases entire seasons at once that are designed to be consumed as a whole, but not necessarily for a network that's still releasing its shows in the conventional weekly format.
When asked about whether HBO has talked to Pizzolatto about reshaping the show should there be future seasons, Lombardo said that wasn't his style.
"I'm not in the business—have never been in the business—of micromanaging the process in the sense of telling a writer the beats that they need to follow and how to tell a story," he said. "I know he speaks to people. He speaks to me, [but] that doesn't mean he's going to speak to you."
Despite the criticism—and because ratings have been largely even with Season 1—HBO is ready to greenlight a third season if Pizzolatto is on board. "I think [Nic's] an enormously talent writer and I've already called him and said if you want to do a Season 3, let's start talking... I'm not calling him to say, 'Let's talk about Season 3 if you follow some rules of mine.' It's not a conversation I'm interesting in having or I think I need to have with Nic... I'm happy to be in business with him for a very long time."