HBO Inks Deal With ‘True Detective’ Creator Nic Pizzolatto, Does Not Promise Season 3

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in the True Detective season that you liked. (photo: HBO) Courtesy HBO

True Detective scribe Nic Pizzolatto signed an overall deal with HBO that runs through 2018, but don’t go typing #TrueDetectiveSeason3 just yet. No seriously. Don’t. Stop typing it.

Variety reports that the premium cable channel’s renewed relationship with Mr. Pizzolatto promises “a number of new projects” through 2018, but a third season of the anthology series may not be one of them. Like a stern parent talking to their scantily clad child before prom, HBO has offered Mr. Pizzolatto a number of compromises before allowing him to move forward with a third True Detective run. These options include: 1) Stepping down as showrunner, but remaining exec-producer; 2) Working with a full writing staff, instead of going it alone with occasional help; 3) Legally banishing the word apoplectic from his vocabulary. Two of those are legit, and I’m left to assume the third was only heavily implied.

According to Variety: “HBO has been pressing Pizzolatto for an answer so they can move forward with production on the show.”

It may be hard to remember in this post-Farrelstache world we live in, but season one of True Detective was a bonafide hit. Not only did it kick-start the The McConaissance, it basically drowned in critical praise and fan reaction, all the while elevating both Mr. Pizzolatto and director Cary Fukanaga (who helmed every episode of season one) to auteur status.

Now picture the exact opposite of a bonafide hit. Go ahead. I’m picturing a giant toxic-waste monster with the forehead of Vince Vaughn, the squinty eyes of Tim Riggins, and bright orange hair, just mainlining cocaine and stabbing me repeatedly with a knife, not deeply but just enough times so that I bleed to death at an old-man orgy. That, funny enough, are all the images I remembered upon waking from the fever dream that was True Detective season two. The general lack of coherence, shakily inconsistent performances, and dialogue apparently written by a sentient but mentally disturbed electronic thesaurus raised the question: Was Nic Pizzolatto carried to a successful debut season by, uh, everyone around him?

The ironic thing is, even as critics hurled negative review after negative review at the second season it still averaged more same-night viewers than season one (2.61 million vs 2.33 million). Besides perhaps proving that no matter what, we love watching a good dumpster fire, this has to mean HBO’s reluctance to go ahead with an all-Pizzolatto-all-the-time third season are, if not 100%, mostly creative concerns. For a dude who once described the through-line of True Detective as “it’s all just me,” it’s an interesting choice between keeping control of his creation, or putting that creation to rest for good. Oh boy. Take it away, Rust.

HS HBO Inks Deal With ‘True Detective’ Creator Nic Pizzolatto, Does Not Promise Season 3