As unlikely as it may have seemed last year, Westworld has quickly become one of the most engrossing shows on television. It sounded kind of silly at the outset. The original 1973 film—written and directed by Jurassic Park creator Michael Crichton—had a special place in the hearts of sci-fi fanatics, though its overall draw has waned significantly in the decades since its release. The story of an exotic, western-themed amusement park populated by A.I. robots feels almost quaint by today’s stands but, somehow, producers Jonathan Nolan (Interstellar) and Lisa Joy (Burn Notice) have breathed fresh life into the premise.
Any initial misgivings you might have going in to Westworld fade away as quickly as the series draws you in - which is to say immediately. The finely crafted narrative creates a world that begs for interaction and contemplation, and fans have done both from the get go. It didn’t take long for fan theories to swarm the internet, and nothing seems like it can stop the series from progressing further into mysterious realms. Between an intriguing, buzzworthy story and the sheer weight of its star power—Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton and so on—nothing, it seems, can stop Westworld from becoming HBO’s newest tentpole. Still, with everything going so well for the series, the network has yet to renew it for a second season. Is that likely to change anytime soon?
According to a new interview published by Variety, probably. HBO’s president of programming, Casey Bloys, recently discussed plans for the Westworld series with Variety and, without being too committal or specific, stated that the chances that the show continues beyond its freshman season are pretty good. According to Bloys:
“I want to get a very complete picture of the ratings, which seem to be doing very well, so we’re happy with that. [The executive producers are] going to talk to us about what they envision a second season being. But right now I would say it’s looking really good. We’re very pleased with how it’s doing.”
His coy response may seem somewhat non-committal, but given the ratings and the attention the series is getting online, a second season seems to be the more likely outcome right now. That certainly jives with Nolan and Joy’s plans; the producers have confessed that the work stoppage on the series during season 1 was to allow them the time to plan out future storylines and plant seeds for subsequent seasons, ahead of time. They’re definitely playing a long game here, which seems to be for the benefit of the story overall.
So why not just come out and renew the series already? Usually, HBO is fairly quick with their renewals so the lack of a confirmation might seem worrisome to some fans. But there is a lot to consider. For one, Bloys is fairly new in his position, and he might just have a different way of doing things than his predecessor. He might also be trying to avoid the misfire that was Vinyl. That series got a second season announcement as soon as the first episode aired, only to see ratings and interest drop considerably, forcing a cancellation by the end of the first season.
It makes sense, then, to not count chickens before they hatch. Westworld might seem strong now, but winds can change at a moment’s notice. From a business perspective, it makes sense to wait and make sure that the series can maintain momentum before placing all your faith in it. HBO is in an odd position right now with the end of Game of Thrones lurking closer and closer on the horizon. The network needs to foster the right series in order to maintain their ratings dominance, so it’s not unreasonable to take a longer approach to committing.
Still, unless something drastic happens in the next few episodes, season 2 of Westworld feels like a sure thing. The upcoming episode puts the season at its midpoint, and by then we should have a better idea of how the series is performing. Bloys may not make the announcement right away, but it feels safe to believe that Westworld won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Westworld continues next Sunday with ‘Contrapasso’ @9pm on HBO.