David Nevins (President of Entertainment at Showtime) Talks the End of DEXTER, HOMELAND Season 2, NURSE JACKIE, HOUSE OF LIES, and More

     January 13, 2012


As part of the network’s TCA Press Tour presentation, President of Entertainment at Showtime, David Nevins, took some time to talk about their popular, long-running drama series Dexter, what he thought of the creative choices for this season, and the relationship between Dexter (Michael C. Hall) and his adopted sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter). Nevins also talked about the status of future seasons of Nurse Jackie and The Borgias, his hopes for their latest comedy, House of Lies, and where this season’s most critically acclaimed new drama, Homeland, will be headed in Season 2. Check out what he had to say after the jump:

david-nevins-imageQuestion: Dexter had its highest ratings this season, but how did you feel about it creatively?

DAVID NEVINS: I thought they had interesting storylines. I thought that the theme of Dexter (Michael C. Hall) trying to figure out what he wants to pass on to his son and his questioning issues of spirituality made for interesting stuff. I think there’s a very clear trajectory now, where they’re going over the course of the next two seasons. I think it’s going to help to write with that end-game in mind. I’ve been pushing to shake up the formula a bit, and I think there’s gonna be fundamentally different dynamics now that Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), in addition to confronting her feelings for Dexter, has also just been given a huge reveal at the end of the season. That’s gonna ricochet through, and change the feel. I think it’s time to shake up what Dexter goes through, so that he’s not quite such a lone wolf.

When you got the scripts for the rough-cut episodes of this last season of Dexter and saw that there was a subplot where a therapist was encouraging Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) to date her adopted brother, did you think, “Wow, this is a bold direction for the series,” or “Wait a minute, even adopted siblings can’t date”?

NEVINS: I don’t know that she was encouraging them to date. She was encouraging Deb to confront it, and that’s a story that will continue next season.

Were you aware of viewers getting an icky feeling about that?

NEVINS: Yeah, I’m aware that there’s a certain taboo, despite the fact that they’re not genetically related, absolutely. But, it’s something that I think has been building for a number of years. If you go back and you look at the last couple seasons, it’s an idea that has informed how they’ve done the show, for a long time. I definitely dispute that she was encouraging them to date, but she did want Debra to start to deal with it and confront it, and that led to the big reveal at the end of the season.

dexter-image-michael-c-hallWith the past history between Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, did you have to have any discussions with the actors, before developing a romantic storyline between them?

NEVINS: It makes for an interesting ripple in the show. I think the audiences will figure that in, as they go. We do have conversations. When you have actors like Michael and Jennifer, who have been heart-and-soul characters for so long, they know what’s going on, and there are conversations that go back and forth. Michael and Jennifer have a very good relationship, so it’s quite comfortable.  That has been a conversation and will continue to be a conversation.

What made this the best time to introduce a series like House of Lies?

NEVINS: House of Lies is all about excess and confronting the contradictions of it and the hypocrisies of it. I think it is actually an incredibly timely show. I’m excited. As you see where it’s going over time, I think it’s a deceptively deep show that will speak to those issues. You may not like how it speaks to it, but it’s going to confront it head-on. We’re not really about taking the sanctimonious obvious route to confront those issues of income disparity, but I think it’s got very interesting things to say with how businesses run and, ultimately, it’s a comedy about everything that’s messed up in American capitalism. That’s the subject of the show.

holliday-grainger-the-borgias-image-1What exactly is your commitment to The Borgias?

NEVINS: I’ve seen all but the last two episodes of Season 2, and it’s a bigger show. It’s got more action. It’s going in more directions. It all comes together. I’m very excited about it. I’m not totally surprised that it’s resonated, as it’s also a show about excess and the cost of excess. I think it’s very interesting.  So, I certainly anticipate more seasons, after Season 2. I was a little surprised that it was bigger than The Tudors, and that was a very pleasant surprise. It seemed to satisfy the people who liked The Tudors, while also being a little bit bigger and a little bit more male. I wasn’t counting on it going up, but it keeps going, and I would anticipate multiple seasons.

Will the next season of Nurse Jackie likely be the last season of the show?

NEVINS: No, I don’t think that’s fair to say. I’ve seen most of the season of Jackie. They started in the Fall. I was really pushing that she start facing some of the consequences of her action, and she does, in a big way. I think it’s a really interesting season. She is absolutely not in the same place that she’s been, for the past two seasons, and it ends up feeling like a different show. Well, it’s absolutely the same show, but the feel of the episodes is slightly tweaked, and I think it puts Jackie in a really interesting place. We’ll see what happens this season, and then make decisions, but I believe there’s life.

How many new series do you plan on launching for the year?

NEVINS: As for 2012, we’re just at the very beginning of House of Lies. I think that show has real hit potential. I’m very curious to see how it starts to resonate, as we get into the back half of the season. I think there’s real deceptive depth to that situation and those characters, and that’s a big piece of it. And then, Homeland will likely come back in the Fall. The other show that’s going to be a big priority for me this summer is Episodes, which we only had seven episodes of this last year. We’re going to make a major marketing push this year. I think that show has real potential. I was in London for the table read. It’s going to be nine episodes this year, and we read all nine scripts over the course of one day, which sounds like it could be a nightmare, but it was really one of the most memorable days I’ve had because it was just really, really funny. We’ve got top comedy writers, writing at the top of their game. The show is much more ensemble. It’s got many more things cooking in it. I didn’t expect it to get embraced so quickly, first with the Emmys and now with the Golden Globes. I think audiences are just beginning to understand what it is. So, that will be a big push in the summer, and then the fall will be Homeland and Dexter.

Season 1 of Homeland is going to be a tough act to follow. What can you say about Season 2, and whether it will pick up right where it left off or whether it might go forward in time a bit?

NEVINS: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily assume that Season 2 begins the day after Season 1 ended. I do know some things about it. It’s been an interesting show in that I read a lot of, “Well, last week was good. Where are they going to go now? How are they going to top it?” And, I like that. I think it’s justified skepticism. With Season 1, I think they pulled it off. Most people seemed to really like the finale. I think there is a general attitude of, “Well, Season 1 worked. What the hell are they going to do in Season 2?” And, I think the writers have some very clever answers for that. I have to say that it is very fun to work on that kind of show, where people are wanting to know what’s going on, and you’re just trying to stay one step ahead.

Have you seen any full scripts, or have you been made aware of the overall direction?

NEVINS: No. I can’t even say I know the overall. Alex [Gansa] and Howard [Gordon] and I talk all the time, and there are a lot of what-ifs. I’m sure they know more than I know, but to get it right, you’ve got to take your time. One thing that I know will be central next year is that Brody (Damian Lewis) and Carrie (Claire Danes) have only just begun. There’s an enormous amount that’s unresolved. One way or the other, that will be a central issue in Season 2. I’ll leave it at that.