While still never quite attaining the level of acclaim earned by HBO, rival premium cable network Showtime has spent the last decade or so carving out a niche for itself in the original programming game, playing host to such past hits as Dexter, Weeds, and Californication. Showtime hasn't been lucky enough to stumble upon a Game of Thrones-level international mega hit quite yet, but that doesn't mean their various shows don't have loyal cabals of followers regardless.
In recent years, two of Showtime's flagship original dramas have been Homeland and Ray Donovan, with both series proving to be both viewer and award magnets. For those unaware, Homeland's original premise concerned Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a bi-polar CIA officer, and her quest to prove that returning war hero Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) had in fact been turned by the enemy and was now an imminent threat to his home country. On the other side of the spectrum, Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as a Boston-born "fixer" for a powerful Los Angeles law firm, whose life becomes extremely complex once his family issues follow him to the east coast.
With both series continuing to pull in great ratings numbers, it's no wonder that Showtime has opted to renew both Homeland and Ray Donovan for additional seasons. The news was announced at today's TCA festivities, and while not much of a shock, is still a welcome development for fans. Homeland was picked up for seasons 7 and 8, ahead of next January's season 6 premiere. This guarantees that Homeland will remain on the air through at least 2018. Ray Donovan was picked up for season 5, just a few weeks out from the airing of season 4's finale.
Ray Donovan's season 5 renewal is confirmed to be for the standard Showtime order of 12 episodes, with both of Homeland's future seasons also presumably running for 12 episodes each as well. Both series remain critical darlings, with lead actors Danes and Schreiber up for Emmy awards at this year's upcoming ceremony. If Danes wins, it will be her third Emmy for playing the role of Carrie. A win for Schreiber would mark his first Emmy victory, although he's already been nominated several times for his work on Ray Donovan.
Showtime may not quite be at the top of the premium cable heap just yet, but they're certainly giving it their best shot, with quality programming like Homeland and Ray Donovan arguably standing up to any other drama on TV. They're two players any network would be glad to have on its roster, and it's logical to assume that this won't be the last time either gets renewed.
Homeland returns for season 6 on Sunday, January 15th, 2017. Ray Donovan season 4 airs Sundays at 9pm.