Despite HBO’s Westworld landing 21 Emmy nominations in its second season, HBO president Casey Bloys was called upon by one of the TCA corps in the room to field a question about the viewer and critical backlash that the Byzantine-plotted sci-fi/western has endured recently. Will season 3 of the Jonathan Nolan-Lisa Joy created series take this into account?
“I wouldn’t agree that the backlash was widespread” defended Bloys, “The people who love it (the series) really love it, even the people who dislike it feel the need to discuss it and talk about it, and let you know they dislike it, and debate. And for a show to arouse that kind of feeling, that’s what we want.”
After HBO dropped the first five episodes to critics, Bloys says, “Most of the reviews felt that the story had been clarified. It’s not for casual viewers (the show), it requires your attention. Jonah and Lisa like to challenge their viewers and many feel rewarded by that. It’s a unique show and that’s what we’re looking for.”
One reporter questioned the show’s indulgence of gun violence. Bloys responded that Westworld “is an old west setting. Our shows have a level of violence and nudity and air at 9PM. It was never an overriding concern.”
Though based on Michael Critchton’s 1973 movie about a robot western-theme park that malfunctions on its attendees, Nolan and Joy’s series have taken that nuggest and raised the stakes to complex philosophical levels that question the future of artificial intelligence. Part of the complexity in Westworld lies in its myriad timelines, and who exactly is a robot (“a host”) or not.