Showtime at TCAs: Homeland's Season 4 Reset, Sex on TV, and the Importance of Quality Shows

By Kaitlin Thomas

Jan 16, 2014

David Nevins, president of entertainment at Showtime, bravely stood before a room full of reporters at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour on Thursday to answer questions about Showtime's current and future programming. Surprisingly, not a single person asked about the widely criticized final season of Dexter, but there was plenty of talk about Homeland, the network's focus on sex, and what the pay cabler has coming up (hint: it includes Joshua Jackson's butt).

On the criticism of Season 3 of Homeland and what we can expect in Season 4

When asked if he'd braced himself for the backlash toward Homeland's third season, Nevins admitted he wasn't completely surprised by it, but that everyone involved in the show always knew Season 3 would be a bridge between Seasons 2 and 4 and would act as a reset for the series. He also said he thought the season was "pretty brilliant in its architecture about Iran" and "very clever and very audacious." 

The writers are currently planning out where Season 4 is headed, but it's very likely that we'll finally see Carrie working as a field operative—which is actually her job—in a foreign country. "It's going to be different next year," said Nevins. "You're going to see a different kind of story with Claire Danes, and I don't know if it's going to be a one‑season story or two‑season story." When asked about Mandy Patinkin's involvement in Season 4 with Carrie out in the field, his understanding is that Saul will still be very central to the story and play a large role. Which is good, because if you've got Mandy Patinkin, you need to use Mandy Patinkin, you know? 


On Showtime's pilot process and why Kyle Chandler's The Vatican didn't make it:

Nevins and Showtime still believe in the pilot process, unlike Fox, and cited Kyle Chandler's failed pilot The Vatican for the reason why. "That show was conceived and written when Pope Benedict was still in charge of the Vatican." Afraid that the show would feel dated was part of the reason the pay cabler decided not to order it to series. On the other end of the spectrum is Showtime's newest series Penny Dreadful, which premieres May 11 and didn't have a pilot. Series creator John Logan wrote the entire season before Showtime made a decision on it. It wasn't even ordered to series until Nevins had read the scripts for the first and last episodes. So basically, Showtime's just going to continue doing whatever it wants because it's Showtime.

On the new series The Affair and its target demographic: 

Showtime doesn't pay much attention to target demos, according to Nevins, but he notes that the network makes shows for adults and that The Affair is a very adult drama. "It's an interesting combination, that show. It's just a gorgeous script... It looks at all the small nuances of relationships from both the male and female perspective." The males in question are Dominic "Jimmy McNulty" West and Josh "Pacey Witter" Jackson. The female stars are also just as recognizable; Luther's Ruth Wilson plays the wife of Jackson's character and has an affair with West, while Maura Tierney of ER and NewsRadio plays West's wife. There is no premiere date yet. But get ready for Betrayal on Showtime!

On the network's overall strategy:

Echoing similar comments made by FX President John Langraf earlier this week, Nevins believes in making quality shows for a certain audience, not generic shows with a mass appeal. "Not every show needs to appeal to everyone," he said. "We try to make a number of shows, and I want to make shows that are going to inspire passionate audiences... I hope that Showtime as a whole will appeal to a fairly broad section of adults, but each individual show doesn't need to."

On the amount of sex on Showtime:

With series like Californication and Masters of Sex, the network obviously doesn't shy away from the topic, and that's for a reason: you can't do that stuff on advertiser-supported networks. "You're always looking for things that can differentiate you... and sex is certainly one of them," said Nevins. But he's clear that there's sex for the sake of sex, and then there's the interesting stories Showtime is telling about it. "I mean, Masters of Sex, from the moment that I read that book, the biography of the two of them, I realized that's so clearly an only‑in‑pay‑cable idea, where...the subject of your drama can be the study of human sexuality."

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  • Nikell Jan 17, 2014

    I'm sick of shows about affairs, mistresses, prostitutes, sex, lawyers, mediums and addicts... i'm done with that deep plots..

  • entil2001 Jan 17, 2014

    The funniest thing in that article was the suggestion that the writers for Homeland are "planning out" where the next season is headed. More like: "They are trying to figure out what to do in the first episode to write themselves out of a corner, and they'll make it up as they go along from there. Just like every other Howard Gordon series."

  • CharmedOneP391 Jan 17, 2014

    I just hope Shameless doesn't go the way of ol' yeller (Dexter, Homeland, Weeds. take your pick)

  • dhaworth Jan 17, 2014

    @thekaitling, did Starz do one of these sessions yet, or have I missed it? Some of their upcoming shows look good.

  • thekaitling Jan 17, 2014

    Their panel was last week. Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend. But we've heard great stuff about Black Sails!

  • dhaworth Jan 18, 2014

    Ah OK, thanks. That's a shame, I think Starz is one of the most interesting networks at the moment. There's Black Sails, second season of Da Vinci's Demons and then Power and Outlander.

  • ben45tpy Jan 17, 2014

    His reason for cancelling The Vatican is preposterous. Does he think we're all so popculturally in sync with The Vatican that we'd refuse to watch a Kyle Chandler show because its inspired by events that are LESS THAN A YEAR OLD??? Sheer stupidity. I was expecting him to say that the quality of the content produced so far was lacking as in you know, a REAL reason to pass on a show. It had the potential to be a brilliant series and that's even without taking into account that it stars KYLE CHANDLER. Oh well at least now the idea of the show is pure in our minds. Seeing it realised would have had its pluses, but at least Showtime won't get to Fucking Lumberjack it.

  • harpier Jan 17, 2014

    As far as original programming goes, Showtime is still, no doubt, catching up with HBO, who is incidentally also airing some less than auteur shows right now as well. (True Blood, for instance, is easily as patchy as Dexter, both of which have some very bright spots even in their weakest seasons but their stylized pulpy-ness leaves them open to real stupidity.) Masters of Sex is equal to anything HBO is airing right now.

    The real difference between them—at least as I see it—is that HBO is willing to make difficult storytelling decisions while risking ratings popularity. To a certain extent, this was Dexter's failing, but Homeland is the most notable victim. Nevertheless, I've been impressed overall with the direction the channel is going.

  • xubxerox Jan 17, 2014

    It's funny how Joshua Jackson is always refered to as Pacey from Dawsons Creek even though his last and just as memorable role was in Fringe as Peter Bishop. And both series ran for a long time - but Dawsons ended ten years ago, Fringe just last year. Whats up with that ??

  • thekaitling Jan 17, 2014

    Being a female in her late 20s is pretty much what it comes down to. Also: Pacey-Con.

  • harpier Jan 20, 2014

    This comment has been removed.

  • xubxerox Jan 17, 2014

    Are you telling me you haven't watched Fringe? ^^ :)

    To be totally honest, I haven't watched Dawsons Creek. So, I guess, I get your argument ;)

  • thekaitling Jan 17, 2014

    I did watch Fringe, but he'll still always be Pacey to me.

  • ben45tpy Jan 17, 2014

    It's outrageous. He should only ever be referred to as Charlie Conway.

  • sluu3p18 Jan 17, 2014

    Quack.. quack... quack.... quack.. quack.. quack.. quack!

  • elthandiel Jan 17, 2014

    I agree that he should be more noted for his contribution to fringe. But then again, Dawson's Creek was his breakout role, so I guess, in the end, it just depends on which side of the coin you think is prettier.

  • yamachamama Jan 17, 2014

    Homeland had two opportunities to get it right. Once at the end of Season 1 and then again at the end of Season 2. Yet they allowed Brody's character to exist without purpose or reason for an entire third season.

    The ripple effects of this were huge.
    -It extended Carrie's "craziness" to a point beyond being useful or interesting.
    -It forced use to deal with the life and times of Dana Brody, which also dragged on beyond reason
    -It turned Jessica Brody, once one of the strongest characters on the show, into a useless babbling idiot.

    Sitting through all of Season 3 kind of requires treatment like Carrie got at the end of Season 1 - shock me and make me forget...

  • MaKTaiL Jan 17, 2014

    I feel like I am the only one who actually liked Season 3.... a lot.

  • joename69 Jan 17, 2014

    I really liked it, it was kinda messy at the beginning, but i still really liked it, i thought it was far better then 2, which i dont care for at all, but still season 3 is good but not comparable to the masterpiece that is season 1. IMO

  • Dudekotka Jan 16, 2014

    I was going to avoid reading the Homeland part because I thought I had stopped watching it after the baby reveal, then I just closed the article, and THEN I realized I finished Homeland a week ago. Jesus, what a bad season.

    I'd still rather watch Homeland season 3 multiple times than the last season of Dexter once.

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