Ray Donovan’s showrunner was shocked when Showtime cancelled the series
Just several days ago, Showtime elected to cancel their long-running series Ray Donovan, which starred Liev Schreiber as Donovan, a professional fixer who arranged bribes, payoffs, threats, and other illegal activities for the benefit of his powerful clients. “After seven incredible seasons, Ray Donovan has concluded its run on Showtime,” reads Showtime’s statement. “We are proud that the series ended amid such strong viewership and on such a powerful note. Our deepest thanks go to Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight, showrunner David Hollander and the entire cast and crew, past and present, for their dedicated work.” While the series was obviously nearing its end, fans were expecting one more season to bring the story to a close, and it seems that showrunner David Hollander was one of those who was shocked to learn of Showtime’s decision.
While speaking with Vulture, David Hollander said that, “We’re still scratching our heads. We had no indicator that the show was ending. We were behaving creatively as though we were in mid-sentence. And so, there was no sense that this was going to be a completion. This was in no way a series finale.” Hollander added that the show had never been on the bubble before; in fact, the production team was “so used to it being the other way, where we were burned out by a show that was very hard to make and the network would pull us and cajole us and push us. We were used to being a show that was not canceled. We never thought we would be canceled.” Hollander confirmed that the eighth season would have been the last for the series, and that they were already laying the groundwork for the finale.
The pivot we had been making narratively was to move the backstory into the present and run it concurrently. So there were actually two stories to be told: What happened then, really, and how will that impact what happens now? The next step was what happened with Ray and Mickey in the ‘90s, which would have been the creation of Ray Donovan as a character and as a fixer. That’s why we went into such detail to find the right cast. That [flashback] story was a helpful pivot, at least for me creatively. I felt really good about it. And so, that story was going to run directly against the idea of Ray and Mickey now.
Hollander expressed his regret that Ray Donovan has now ended where it did, and had he known that Showtime would have pulled the plug, he would have ended the series at season six. “The end of season six was the completion of an idea,” Hollander said. “And we were pretty burned out. It felt like the end. I think it would have been an extraordinary series finale because it had enough open and enough closed. When I came back for season seven, it was with the idea that you can’t just take the completion of an arc and then complete it again, so the writers’ room began with building two seasons.“