HBO knew this one was coming. Though True Detective‘s second season premiered to solid critical approval, the drama has become a Twitter punching bag as it’s assumed the unfortunate status of summer’s designated “hate-watch” show — mocked for what many deem uneven and confusing storytelling.
That criticism was bound to come up during the pay cable network’s Thursday executive session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour — and programming president Michael Lombardo was clearly prepared.
“I’ve been on vacation,” he said, taking a question about the series at the top of the panel. “I came back for this, and I became aware that some of you have tweeted [and] written some comments about True Detective, … that you weren’t enjoying it as much as you thought you might.”
But Lombardo did not appear phased by any of the critics’ qualms — and he came with the viewership stats to justify his continued pleasure with the series’ performance. He noted that neither this season, nor the previous critically lauded one with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, was intended or expected to draw such a big audience — but draw it has. True Detective boasts an average 12 million viewers this season, which has it pacing 1 million north of season one.
“Nic Pizzolatto is one of the best writers working in television and motion pictures today,” Lombardo added of his divisive True Detective creator and showrunner, before teasing that he enjoyed the finale. “I think he takes a big swing. I think the show ends with as satisfying an end as any show I’ve seen.”
HBO took its time before commissioning the second season of True Detective, thanks in great part to Pizzolatto trying to pin down a new story for the anthology. Word on a third season may take just as long.
“I’d love to do another season,” Lombardo said, noting that the ask to Pizzolatto was already out there. “I haven’t asked every one of the 12 million viewers who is watching, but I think what he’s doing is so much bolder, braver and satisfying that what I’m seeing in film. I’d happily be in business with him for a long time.”