Entertainment

Everything We Know About 'Dear White People' Season 4

Season 3 of the Netflix comedy ended on quite a cliffhanger.

dear white people
Logan Browning in Season 3 | Lara Solanki/Netflix
Logan Browning in Season 3 | Lara Solanki/Netflix

The Netflix comedy Dear White People began life as creator Justin Simien's 2014 indie film of the same name and has achieved popularity in its own right as an episodic adaptation. The satirical series, which, like the movie, follows a group of vocal Black students speaking out against racism at predominantly white, prestigious Winchester University, was officially renewed for a fourth and final season following the release of Season 3 back in August 2019, so class should be back in session soon. What will Winchester's outspoken Sam, Lionel, and their friends be up to this time, and how will Dear White People end? Here's everything we've turned up about Season 4 so far.

dear white people
Lara Solanki/Netflix

What's the Dear White People Season 4 release date? 

Showrunner Justin Simien told Deadline that, if it weren't for the pandemic, Dear White People would've likely finished shooting Season 4 by summer 2020. For fans eager for another season, it's frustrating to hear that it would have arrived sooner than we'll actually be seeing it—but luckily, by now, filming is well underway. The show finally got to resume production in the fall, although it did shut down for a period of time in mid-November, as several people on set tested positive, per Deadline. That's unfortunately the new reality for TV production, and Dear White People is just one of several shows that's navigating the landscape. The show probably already resumed filming, or will soon if they haven't, and then likely wrap up either before the end of 2020 or in early 2021. When considering that timeline, it's possible new episodes will hit Netflix by sometime in spring 2021, but the summer is probably a safer bet. 

How many episodes will Dear White People Season 4 have?

Like the first three installments, Season 4 will also be 10 episodes.

dear white people cast
Lara Solanki/Netflix

Which cast members are returning?

When announcing the Season 4 renewal, Netflix also said that all of the main characters would be back. That means you can expect to see more adventures of Sam (Logan Browning), Troy (Brandon P. Bell), Reggie (Marque Richardson), Coco (Antoinette Robertson), Lionel (DeRon Horton), Gabe (John Patrick Amedori), and Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson). To tide yourself over as you wait for new episodes, you can check out a very wholesome video of the cast's reaction to the renewal news here. One character that won't be returning is Jeremy Tardy's Rashid Bakr. According to Variety, the actor, who appeared in 11 episodes, was asked by Lionsgate (who produces the show) to return for several more, but he decided to exit the series, alleging the studio exhibited discrimination in pay negotiations. He shared more about that on Twitter—which Lionsgate cites as "purely a monetary matter"—and his decision to leave the show.

What about Justin Simien? 

Justin Simien, the creator of both Dear White People the movie and the show, has been heavily involved with the show since the very beginning and will be there until the end. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he'll be back as co-showrunner and executive producer alongside Yvette Lee Bowser.

dear white people
Lara Solanki/Netflix

What will Season 4 be about?

Floating through the background of Season 3 was the mystery of the secret society Order of X—although it was tough for even the boldest Winchester students like Sam, Troy, and Lionel to figure out the truth behind it. By the season finale, though, not only was it proven to exist, but Dr. Edward Ruskin (Giancarlo Esposito) informed them that it's in fact very powerful and has managed to cover up scandals so its members can hold onto their wealth and status—even if it means silencing allegations of sexual assault, like the ones against Professor Moses Brown (Blair Underwood). With Troy showing Sam and Lionel the society's cuff links and declaring, "We need to talk," just before Season 3 was through, it definitely seems like we're only just beginning to learn about Order of X. Seemingly the perfect subject for an investigative documentary thesis from Sam, it's possible she and her friends will look into it further in the coming episodes, and either try to plan its demise or revive its legacy. 

Conceptually, though, the series is likely to continue to explore contemporary issues like it has done all along. Simien spoke broadly about what to expect from the final season to Deadline, saying "virtue signaling" and "meritocracy" are big themes—like how caring about an issue for a moment or offering opportunities to Black people might seem like enough, but are just a temporary change that does little to affect a more complicated system. With that, he explained that writers were considering the question of "What happens to a Black life after it’s been declared that it mattered?" as they moved into the season.

Is it really the final season of Dear White People?

Once Dear White People wraps up its fourth season, it will officially be done. It might not be the last we'll see of Winchester, though. Simien told Deadline that, although he'd be handing off the concept for somebody else to take on, he "would absolutely love the idea of spin-offs" to continue to take place at the school, follow some of the characters we're already familiar with, and spark new conversations.

We'd absolutely love that, too. If they're green-lit, it'll be awhile until the spin-offs arrive, so it's good that we'll soon have Season 4 to binge. Continue to check back, as we'll keep updating this post with more information regarding Dear White People Season 4 as it becomes available.

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell.
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