HBO Renews Westworld, Insecure, Divorce


In an unsurprising move, HBO orders second seasons for three freshman series, marking a change in fortunes for the prestige network.

Good news, HBO fans. Casey Bloys, the network’s president of programming, announced early Monday afternoon that freshman series Westworld, Insecure, and Divorce have all been picked up for another season.

“I am thrilled to announce the pickup of our three fall series, all of which have distinctive, original voices,” Bloys said. “Critics and viewers alike have welcomed Westworld and Insecure, as well as the return of Sarah Jessica Parker to the network after 12 years with Divorce.”

These renewals should put to rest, at least for now, concerns about HBO’s future post-Game of Thrones. After helping launch the so-called Golden Age of television with experimental dramas (The Sopranos, The Wire) and profane comedies (Sex and the City, Girls), the premium cable platform has hit a few stumbling blocks in recent years, with The Leftovers, Looking, and Vinyl failing to galvanize audiences. Even True Detective, which debuted to widespread acclaim and buzz, received such fervent derision in its second season that its future is now in question.

Seven episodes in, Westworld has ably fulfilled its role as Game of Thrones’s successor. The science-fiction/Western hybrid, created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, depicts the inner workings of a theme park in which lifelike androids help guests satisfy their deepest, darkest desires. It is inspired by the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name.

Westworld premiered on Oct. 2 to a live audience of 3.3 million, matching True Detective season one. Since then, it has averaged 11.7 million viewers, at times even outperforming early episodes of Game of Thrones. Critics have also by and large embraced the series, in particular singling out its meta commentary and star-studded cast, which includes Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, and Anthony Hopkins.

Like Westworld, which experienced multiple delays during its production, Insecure was in the works for a long time before it premiered on Oct. 9. It’s an offshoot of co-creator and star Issa Rae’s web series Awkward Black Girl, following the professional, social, and romantic lives of an African American woman in New York City.

Insecure represents an anomaly for HBO, whose persistent lack of diversity behind and in front of the camera has come under fire. Hopefully, its viewership numbers, which averaged a healthy 3.2 million viewers (on par with other HBO half-hour shows like Girls and Veep), and critical acclaim will convince the network to open its doors to more female and nonwhite creative voices down the road.

Larry Wilmore, former host of Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show, helped create Insecure and wrote the first episode along with Rae. Season one will run for eight episodes.

Divorce, Sarah Jessica Parker’s much-anticipated return to HBO after Sex and the City, is a dark comedy about parents navigating a messy split. Although reviews are less glowing than those for Westworld and Insecure, the show has averaged 4.4 million viewers during its run so far.

Thomas Haden Church stars alongside Parker, with Sharon Horgan (best known for the British sitcom Catastrophe) serving as creator and Paul Simms as showrunner.

Westworld airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST, with its season finale scheduled for Dec. 4. Insecure airs on Sundays at 10:30 p.m. Its season finale will air on Nov. 27. Divorce airs on Sundays at 10:00 p.m. and will wrap up its first season on Dec. 11.

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HBO’s other new fall series, the comedy High Maintenance, was already renewed for a second season. Its season one finale aired on Oct. 21.