‘True Detective’ May Only Get Three Seasons

Published 11 months ago by

True Detective Matthew McConaughey True Detective May Only Get Three Seasons

Too much of a good thing does exist, believe it or not, and there may be no better exemplar of that hoary adage than the US model of serialized storytelling. Stateside, TV shows tend to go on ad nauseam, outstaying their welcome by several seasons and wasting their audience’s goodwill in the process (think GleeThe Office, or perhaps Weeds). We’re getting better at it, though; Parks & Recreation has a finale in sight, while FX’s Fargo‘s vitality measures at just ten episodes.

But not every show should be approach with a “one size fits all mentality”. Most television can, and ought to be, crafted with a clear endgame in mind; there’s a point where the story has to wrap up, lest a series becomes too unwieldy and lose itself in its own scope. On the other hand, certain offerings by their very nature lend themselves to repetition. Take American Horror Story, a show that resets its narrative with each season, telling a different tale, with different characters, in a different setting, every single time. That’s the kind of program that can justify a lifespan of “forever”.

This is also true of HBO’s recent towering critical smash, True Detective, which just wrapped up its first venture last March. Every cycle of Nic Pizzolatto’s uncompromisingly brutal and thoroughly grim take on the police procedural will bring a new cast and a brand new case to solve; though it’s still being developed, season two is already shaping up nicely, with a California backdrop, female leads, and a focus on America’s occult history. It’s almost enough to spur curiosity about the details of season three, but here’s the rub: Pizzolatto, according to The Playlist, actually isn’t thinking beyond the third go-round.

Speaking at the Banff World Media Festival, Pizzolatto expressed his thoughts on where True Detective is headed and where it might end up; taking him at his word, we’re looking at only around twenty more episodes before he calls it quits. His outlook is a bit surprising – True Detective seems like exactly the sort of show HBO could milk endlessly without being shameful about it – but he clearly lays out the reasoning behind his sentiment in the following quote:

It can’t have any growing pains like a regular first season. If it works it has to work right out of the box. That’s incredibly exhausting. I mean, the job is exhausting to begin with, but it’s doubly exhausting and I’m writing every episode.

True Detective S1 True Detective May Only Get Three Seasons

Seems like a fair concern. Cobbling together a crime yarn as intricately-crafted and intelligent as the one filmmaker Cary Fukunaga unspooled over the course of True Detective‘s premiere outing just once is hard enough; pulling off the same feat until infinity sounds downright Herculean. Even getting three equally great seasons out of the series would be a serious hat trick for Pizzolatto and whoever he has on-board to direct its second and third entries. Pushing beyond that point could be even riskier for a show like True Detective than for a brand like Modern Family. Maybe Pizzolatto has the right idea here.

Then again, all idealism and principal can be jettisoned when a creative type gets tempted by a well-priced carrot, so maybe we’ll end up seeing True Detective go to four seasons and change. It’s up to Pizzolatto and whether or not he’s really dedicated to quality over quantity.


We’ll keep you posted on the future of True Detective as more information is made available.

Source: The Playlist

Follow Andy Crump on Twitter @agracru
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  1. I don’t see why HBO wouldn’t just let him take his time and come in with a treatment or whatever at anytime he wants. They do it with Curb, and I’m going to assume (I could be wrong) that Curb never got the ratings True D got. FX does it with Louie, BBC does it I think.

    I would go this route, though I’m not in charge. No reason for Pizolatto to just grind out three seasons in a row and then call it quits.

    • That’s a great point about Curb and Louie and I would even point out a time when HBO gave The Sopranos extra time between seasons.

      I loved season 1 and have my fingers crossed that season 2 will be just as great but I hope HBO is giving Pizzolatto enough time and space to get these stories right.

    • Doesn’t BBC do that for Sherlock? I could be mistaken.

      • They do but they also have a bunch of other shows too.

        Long-running dramas like Casualty and Holby City that go on for 10-11 months of the year, Eastenders (which has 4 episodes per week every week with no break, typical soap opera stuff) plus a lot of one-off dramas that last 3 episodes at most and then are never seen again. Plus regular dramas like the recently ended Happy Valley that unusually went to 6 episodes and might return next year.

        I think networks here in the UK tend to treat writers with more respect and allow them time to do what they do best rather than working them to the bone for 10 months of the year or more. Even the soap opera writers are a revolving door so a writer could be involved for a month of writing then take several months away before returning to work on the next arc that follows what previous writers have written during their absence.

  2. Well, if they treat it like a show like Mad Men and take extra long breaks in between seasons, that should give them the time to really craft stories that are up to standards. Mad Men had a 17 month break in between seasons a couple years ago. Modern Family was referenced in the piece, but that has to come back in 4-6 months like clockwork.

    Or is wiping the slate clean every time more difficult than advancing stories with existing characters and having those boundaries?

  3. I can respect Pizzolatto’s stance on this. True Detective is a great show, and I’d rather end on a high note when the creator decides it to end, then when the studio/channel cancels it.

  4. Since it’s anthology format, he could do a new season every few years. I don’t think the buzz or appeal would fade. But his wallet may change his mind down the line.

  5. He should called it quit already.

  6. Hire a writing staff.

  7. As for the Fargo part; “while FX’s Fargo‘s vitality measures at just ten episodes”, did I misunderstand that? They are already planning the second season. New story, new cast just like in TD so who knows how many season it’ll get.

  8. regular TV shows can go on forever as well, without burning out fans…

    daytime soap operas… changing actors but not characters
    Law & Order (though canceled) changed actors and characters in a rolling conveyor belt
    Twilight Zone-type (anthology TV shows) each episode is a story of its own

  9. I can see where the creators are coming from in the sense that sometimes it is best to do quality work for a short period of time as opposed to milking something until it becomes a shell of the original idea.