Fargo Showrunner Noah Hawley Talks About True Detective Season Two’s Bad Reception


The second season of Fargo started on Monday with a bang. That wasn’t such a surprise, since it was getting strong critical reviews before the season premiered. You know, the exact opposite of True Detective season two. It was therefore inevitable that Fargo’s sophomore success would be compared to True Detective’s failure, and some new interview with Hawley are getting straight to the point.

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The LA Times sat down with Noah Hawley to talk about season two of Fargo and its early success, and True Detective was one of the first topics brought up. When asked if it was nerve-racking coming back for season two after the response to True Detective, Hawley gave an honest and considered answer:

"“Yeah, that was unfortunate — seeing how people sort of turned on “True Detective,” especially because we’re really explorers. It’s not a new medium, but it is an unexploited medium and we don’t know yet everything we can do with it. So we have to put it through its paces.”"

There isn’t any hint of the silly rivalry between the two shows, which was mostly a product of their respective network bosses anyway. By “new medium” he means anthology shows, which have never been common. It’s great to see Hawley treating True Detective like a peer, and his use of the phrase “turned on” is telling.

Hawley seems to be referring to True Detective season two as something of a failed experiment, which may not be too far from the truth of it. He goes on to talk about the pitfalls of creating an anthology series and how to meet viewer’s expectations:

"“I can’t control the way people react. I feel good about what we did this time around. I feel like I’m usually a good judge in terms of whether it’s working or not working. I think part of the reason the first year was satisfying was because I felt like I knew what people expected to happen and wanted to happen and why — and I either gave it to them or I didn’t. But if I didn’t, it was for a very specific reason.”"

Although at this point he’s not talking directly about True Detective, his response is valid for anthology series in general. Expectations can always be a tricky thing, and there’s no way that all viewers will be happy with the changes that are necessary in this format. It’s obvious that Nic Pizzolatto did not give most viewers what they wanted in season, and his specific reasons for doing so are unknown.

Fargo season two is enjoying well-deserved success. It’s possible that True Detective season three may learn some things from how it handles multiple character arcs, but hopefully not too much. Either way it’s far too early to tell. Even for those that ultimately enjoyed season two of True Detective (like us,) Fargo is very much worth checking out.

Next: Cary Fukunaga could return to True Detective someday.

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