‘Dear White People’ Is Coming Back for One Last Season

This seems to be the year of quite a few TV shows wrapping it up for good after successful runs. Modern Family is one. The Good Place is another. Now add Dear White People to the list. 

Like Orange is the New Black, Dear White People is another show to which Netflix has handed its pink slip. The fourth season, which will drop next year, will be the last one

Netflix logo on a smart phone screen
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‘Dear White People’ was a movie first 

The theatrical film, released in 2014, tells the story of Samantha White, an arts major at a fictional university. She hosts a popular radio show called Dear White People, which stirs up controversy all by itself.

The plot thickens when she wins the election for head of Armstrong/Parker, the all-black house on campus. She defeats her ex-boyfriend, who is the son of the school’s dean.

Tensions, which were already simmering, boil over when a white student holds a blackface-themed party in response to Samantha’s election. 

Written and directed by Justin Simien, the show became a critical hit, rating 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The critical consensus states; “Dear White People adds a welcome new voice to cinema’s oft-neglected discussion of race, tackling its timely themes with intelligence, honesty, and gratifyingly sharp wit.”

The movie got a second life when Simien developed it into a TV series after speaking with hundreds of students and faculty from college campuses across the United States, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The show, which Simien wrote and sometimes directed, consisted of 30-minute episodes including much of the same cast. Most of the episodes focused on a particular character.  

How the TV show was received

Debuting in 2017, the show also got strong reviews,  with the series drawing a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus for the show stated: “timely, provocative, and sharply written, Dear White People is an entertaining blend of social commentary and incisive humor.”

The show employed a number of prominent directors, including Barry Jenkins, who made Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk and Kimberly Pierce, whose credits include Boys Don’t Cry. 

That the show found a home on Netflix makes sense because it was produced by Lionsgate, whose Orange is the New Black had been one of Netflix’s pioneering successes in original programming that viewers binged.

Now both shows, and a lot of other Netflix shows, are finding their days are numbered if not over. 

Why has Netflix canceled so many shows?

When Dear White People was announced for its final season, its creators seemed to take it in stride. They did what they came to do, and they were happy to have the opportunity at all. 

“I’m so grateful my little indie-that-could has made it to four seasons at Netflix,” Simien said in a statement.

“This show, along with the many talented storytellers it has brought into my orbit, has changed my life and I can’t wait to create a celebratory final volume befitting such a transformative experience.”

It’s possible the cast and crew knew there were done because Orange is the New Black was going away too. Besides all that, Netflix operates very differently than most networks do.

Simply put, after 3 or 4 seasons, a lot of shows run their course. Unless they become zeitgeist hits like Stranger Things, shows turn over quickly because Netflix’s goal is to keep offering new content to entice new subscribers and to keep people talking about their services. 

As Deadline reported, “Having 30 episodes of a series (three seasons) is considered enough to satisfy viewers discovering the show. Tacking on more episodes does not add significant value.”

Keeping people interested will only get more challenging with the pending debuts of competitors Disney Plus, HBO Max and Apple TV+.