The entire fall Sunday lineup of HBO, new drama Westworld and comedies Divorce, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, and Insecure, toplined by Issa Rae, have been renewed for a second season of 10 episodes each with all key auspices returning.
The comedies will return in 2017, while sci-fi western Westworld, because of its elaborate production, will come back for a second season in late 2017 or first half of 2018, according to Casey Bloys, president of HBO Programming.
This was the first major new series launch and first major renewal decision for Bloys, who took over the top HBO programming post in May, succeeding Michael Lombardo. In his role as head of comedy, Bloys had developed Divorce, created by Catastrophe‘s Sharon Horgan, and Insecure, created by Rae and Larry Wilmore. Additionally, he helped get Westworld on track after taking over HBO’s drama department in January. Following a production break, the sprawling drama completed its first season, which has been received well by critics as have been both Insecure and Divorce.
Bloys broke with HBO tradition to give new series renewals right off the bat, giving the three series Season 2 pickups seven airings into their first seasons, based on six weeks worth of ratings data across the entire week and digital platforms.
For Westword, “It came out strong but I wanted to make sure that it stayed strong and we had something great here.”
Westworld, developed by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy, is tracking as one of HBO’s biggest first-season drama series ever. Season-to-date, it is averaging a gross audience of 11.7 million viewers, outperforming the first season of Game of Thrones and on par or slightly below with Season 1 of True Detective.
“We’re thrilled that the saga of Westworld will continue for another season,” said Nolan and Lisa Joy. “During the lengthy journey to the screen, our incredibly talented actors, staff and crew became a family, and we look forward to the privilege of continuing this experience with them. We’re also thankful to all of our amazing partners at HBO, WBTV, and Bad Robot for their steadfast support, imagination and ambition. We simply couldn’t have made this show anywhere else.”
Divorce, which marks Parker’s return to television 12 years after Sex and the City, is averaging 4.4 million viewers, on par with HBO’s Veep and Girls. It also is the most female-skewing show on the network along with Girls. As for Insecure, which averages 3.2 million viewers, Bloys noted the comedy’s “huge social media response from a passionate fan base.” Also, “it represents a new voice, which was really important for us.”
There are no major creative changes planned for the second seasons of the three shows beyond the normal creative evolution, Bloys said. There had been a debate over the violence, including sexual violence, and racy content on Westworld. Will that be toned down in Season 2? “It’s up to Jonah and Lisa Joy,” Bloys said.
Next for HBO are the premieres of limited series The Young Pope and Big Little Lies and comedy Crashing, from Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow as well as the final seasons of Girls and Leftovers. Jon Stewart is in the process of building his animation studio, with his new series eyed for a launch in the first part of 2017.
There have been no discussions with Wilmore about a more active involvement in Season 2 of Insecure. He left the comedy after the development stage for his Comedy Central late-night show but is now available. Prentice Penny will continue as Insecure showrunner.
Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, the drama series WESTWORLD is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin, exploring a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.
The cast for the first season of WESTWORLD includes Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Jimmi Simpson, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Ben Barnes, Simon Quarterman, Angela Sarafyan, Luke Hemsworth and Clifton Collins, Jr.
Season one credits: WESTWORLD was created for television by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy, based on the film written by Michael Crichton. Production companies, Kilter Films, Bad Robot Productions and Jerry Weintraub Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub, Bryan Burk.
The comedy series DIVORCE follows Frances, who has suddenly begun to reassess her life and her strained relationship with her husband after more than a decade of marriage and two children. But she soon discovers that making a clean break and a fresh start is harder than she thought. Serving as an executive producer, Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Frances, Thomas Haden Church stars as Frances’ husband, who is struggling to cope with their marriage falling apart.
Season one credits: DIVORCE was created by Sharon Horgan, with Paul Simms serving as a showrunner; executive produced by Paul Simms, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sharon Horgan, Alison Benson and Aaron Kaplan.
The comedy series INSECURE explores the contemporary black female experience in an unclichéd and authentic way. Rae and Yvonne Orji stars as best friends who must deal with their own real-life flaws as they attempt to navigate different worlds and cope with an endless series of uncomfortable everyday experiences.
Season one credits: INSECURE was created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore; executive produced by Issa Rae, Prentice Penny, Melina Matsoukas, Michael Rotenberg, Dave Becky and Jonathan Berry. Larry Wilmore serves as a consultant.