Showtime at the TCAs: Why should Dexter end now that there is finally sweet, sweet love in the air?

Showtime at the TCAs: Why should Dexter end now that there is finally sweet, sweet love in the air?

The TCAs are slowly winding down, and soon enough our own Todd VanDerWerff will be forced to say goodbye to his TCA friends, promising to write them lengthy, impassioned notes that include no modicum of meta-commentary on what writing a note actually means, in a larger sense. He will also have so, so many tote bags. He will be Emperor Van Tote Bag, and his canvas dominion shall stretch across the whole of Southern California! But first he had to go and listen to Showtime president David Nevins drum up excitement for two more seasons of Dexter.

Of course, that “two more seasons” is still just an assumption at this point, given that last season managed to be Dexter’s highest-rated ever, and Nevins is excited by the way the show now has “fundamentally different dynamics” thanks to [SPOILER ALERT] executive speak that only vaguely touches on how the show expects to continue plausibly for two more years now that Deb realizes Dexter is a serial killer and also kinda wants to bone him. While Nevins went out on a limb a bit and proposed that real-life divorced couple Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter are “quite comfortable” playing brother-sister lovers (Because who would know their intimate feelings better than their network president?), he toed the party line where the writers were concerned, insisting that the incest subplot has “informed how they’ve done the show for a long time.” This, of course, is why those who don’t understand Dexter’s signature slippery way with subtext may have felt as though it was all crammed into two episodes. If only Dexter bothered to spell things out a little more.

Anyway, this is why—although Nevins is “excited to have a clear end game in place now,” and that end game seems “likely” to happen over the next two seasons—he still reserves the right to change his mind, because you never know when one of those hidden, long-developing dynamic shifts may reveal themselves and necessitate a whole new season or two to suss out while more famous people show up and murder/get murdered. For example, Nevins (and probably Nevins) alone thought that this season’s “theme of Dexter trying to figure out what he wants to pass on to his son and questioning issues of spirituality made for some interesting stuff,” so there’s no telling what red herring faux-development he might deem interesting enough to extend the show even further.

At one point, according to Todd’s notes, Nevins actually said, “I don’t like one-offs. I want to create an expectation that if you get one, you're going to get the next one.” Specifically he was talking about an upcoming slate of filmmaker-driven documentaries—including some interesting pairings of director and subject like R.J. Cutler and Dick Cheney, Marina Zenovich and Richard Pryor, and Antoine Fuqua and Suge Knight—but really, he could be talking about any Showtime series, all of which set up the expectation that they’ll stick around for years and years to come, because they are on Showtime.

To that end, Nevins is explicitly anticipating more seasons of explicit pope drama The Borgias and also, presumably, more of Nurse Jackie and The Big C after they all debut their next rounds on April 8. He’s also planning a big promotional welcome back for Episodes in the summer, and working with Major League Baseball to develop another season of The Franchise, one that would follow a whole new team. In short, you’re going to get the next one, and the next one, and maybe eventually, the one that makes you question why you ever wanted one in the first place. (Showtime: TV’s Pickle Of The Month Club.) 

It’s too soon, of course, for Nevins to make those kinds of assertions about House Of Lies, which just premiered Sunday and thus probably won’t get a renewal announcement until a whole week from now. But he did give it plenty of praise, saying it was an “incredibly timely” and “deceptively deep” show that will, as time goes on, speak in a frank and meaningful way about the economic disparity in our country, perhaps by freezing the frame so Don Cheadle can hold up a piece of posterboard with “Ain’t Deregulation A Stinker?” written on it.  He also said he believed audiences would come to like Cheadle’s character every bit as much as they’ve embraced Hank Moody, Nurse Jackie, whatever Laura Linney’s character’s name is (even Nevins didn’t seem to know), and the rest of Showtime’s cavalcade of assholes.

As to the show that many felt really did have that “relevance” that Nevis claims is the network’s “big priority,” he said he believed that the already-renewed Homeland resonated with so many because “unless you actually have a kid who's fighting, we don't remember those wars.” (Which is a little presumptuous, of course, because obviously America remembers those wars. We just don’t care.) Discussing what’s to come, Nevins offered only that the show’s second season would explore the many unresolved aspects of Carrie and Brody’s relationship—“a central issue in season two”—and that they would continue to “stay one step ahead of the doubting Thomases.” Indeed, it must be nice to have at least one show where you can say that without reservation.

Obviously, the clutter of all these returning series doesn’t leave a lot of room for anything new, which is why Nevins isn’t really committing to anything beyond the aforementioned documentaries, a new sports and entertainment show hosted by Jim Rome, and Oliver Stone’s long-gestating Secret History Of America, which Nevins called Stone’s “magnum opus,” possibly in the sense that it promises to piss off more people than Stone ever has before. That series is expected to run this summer, to be followed soon after by Nevins asking whether there might be two or three seasons’ more worth of America’s story that Stone could explore, like maybe America suddenly realizes it’s been in love with Canada this whole time.

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