Westworld Renewed For A Second Season, But You'll Have To Wait

Big news today for HBO fans as the network announced the renewal of three shows, including new flagship Westworld. The Sarah Jessica Parker-led Divorce and Issa Rae vehicle Insecure will be back as well, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The two half-hour shows figure to be back first, at least in part because of Westworld's massive scale.

"Westworld is such a big, ambitious show. I don't know if it will be fall of 2017 or into '18," Casey Bloys, HBO programming president, told THR. "That will depend as we get up and running. With Westworld, because the production is such a big endeavor, I don't exactly know when [it will premiere] yet. I can't speculate other than to say it'll either be '17 or '18. Probably more like '18 and half-hours [Insecure and Divorce] in '17 but we're a year away so let's see how it goes."

The show has been a certified hit, at a critical time in HBO's development. As Game of Thrones exits, HBO needed a prestige replacement. The cabler must also feel FX and AMC nipping at its heels in terms of quality programming (FX) and high premium cable ratings (AMC). So as Bloys moved from comedy head to overall programming presidency, he needed to take a big swing. One of his first moves was to mercy-kill the disastrous Vinyl, but he had to wait through a series of delays to see Westworld to the small screen.

So far Bloys' bet has paid off, but at least I would caution against too much excitement about the show. Whether because of an overall trend or because of creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan's vision, a large part of Westworld's allure thus far has been that there is a central mystery that will be revealed. That's not sustainable for obvious reasons, and even should the mystery be drawn out past this season, any revelation will seem like a minor dissapointment.

Basing a show, a big show, around a big reveal, is a lot like sticking a landing at the end of a gymnastics routine. The longer the wait, the trickier the landing. And, at a certain point, you're hoping to limp away with just a sprained ankle.

Contrast that with shows like Game of Thrones or the late, great Breaking Bad. Both shows tipped their hands early: They're about an epic journey. Book readers have more or less known about Jon Snow's parentage for quite some time, but it didn't matter. The show wasn't about the reveal, and the reveal didn't define the show.

Movie reveals tend to work better than TV shows because movies are more like little jewel boxes. Tricks like The Prestige or The Game or The Sting work, even on multiple viewings, because there aren't bloggers leaving the theater to pump expectations after every hour. They tell their story, provide just enough misdirection to where you doubt even your own memory (on the second viewing), and then pull off their prestige with a flourish.

Maybe Westworld is about more than just a hidden truth. I hope it is, I like the show, but the trick worries me. We'd all be better off if we started watching TV less for the reveal and more for the overall experience. Certainly, Westworld's journey is a hell of a lot of fun.
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