Everything We Know About 'Dear White People' Season 4

The musical final season is coming to Netflix soon!

logan browning in dear white people season 4
Logan Browning in the musical final season | Netflix
Logan Browning in the musical final season | 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. 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.

deron horton in dear white people season 4
Deron Horton | Lara Solanki/Netflix

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

The next semester at Winchester officially kicks off this fall! In August 2021, Netflix announced the final season of Dear White People hits streaming on Wednesday, September 22. It comes over two years since Season 3 arrived in August 2019, so fans have been waiting a long time for this one. The show's production schedule was greatly affected by the pandemic, but nevertheless, it's finally coming back and in a way that's more ambitious than ever.

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Is there a trailer for Dear White People Season 4?

Yes! And it looks like Dear White People is going out with a bang(er). When Netflix announced the Season 4 premiere date, it dropped a brief teaser accompanied by the cast singing the Montell Jordan hit "This Is How We Do It," revealing the final season would take the form of a musical final season. The clip may have featured the cover and a shot of Samantha breaking out in song in the school hallways, but the news the season is a musical was definitely surprising at the time, and it wasn't totally clear how that would go down.

Now that the full-length trailer's available, it makes a little more sense how things are going to play out—although, it's still no less surprising that the show is going out with one, big musical extravaganza. The trailer clarifies the musical theme is not totally out of left field, since this season focuses on the senior class' tradition of producing a variety show. Instead of doing a series of skits, this year they decide to put on a musical highlighting Black culture. The clip offers a few needle drops (En Vogue's "Free Your Mind," Johnny Gill's "Rub You the Right Way," and even more "This Is How We Do It") and bountiful dance numbers. It looks like the production won't be guaranteed a standing ovation from everybody on campus, though. Also, apparently, we'll get a glimpse into the future at our favorite characters to see how this senior year changed everything. Get excited and get ready to boogie!

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 in season 4
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.

Are there any new cast members?

Yes! Season 4 will be a big Netflix crossover, actually! Well, sort of—Karamo Brown of Queer Eye is joining the cast. Deadline reported he secured a recurring role in early 2021. He probably won't be playing himself, but currently, his character is being kept under wraps.

He's not the only new addition to the cast, though. Deadline announced in February 2021 that Rome Flynn of How to Get Away With Murder is also another new recurring character. Little is known about who he'll be playing, other than he's named David and has some sort of relationship with Coco, as he's billed as appearing opposite Antoinette Robertson.

brandon p. bell and ashley blaine featherson in dear white people season 4
Brandon P. Bell and Ashley Blaine Featherson | Lara Solanki/Netflix

What will Season 4 be about?

As the the first teaser trailer revealed, this season is taking a bit of a different form, since it's the show's first-ever musical season. Maybe the teen series is taking tips from Riverdale, which also did a handful of musical episodes, but it's more so likely inspired by Spike Lee's co-ed musical School Daze. Maybe the cast just wanted to live out their Broadway dreams, but the musical theme isn't so random. Like the official Season 4 trailer revealed, this installment will be centered around the seniors' tradition of putting on a stage show known as the Varsity Show that pokes fun at Winchester itself. Instead of putting on a series of sketches like everybody's always done, the Winchester class we know and love breaks the mold by putting on an original '90s-inspired musical about Black culture. It's bound to inspire debates—especially when the organization Black AF announces that they're protesting the event—and make for great fodder for Sam's documentary.

For a little while, it was unclear if all dialogue this musical season would come in the form of song, but now it seems likely that the vast majority of tunes will be performed under a spotlight. Definitely expect some okay, sure, wow, we're spontaneously singing now numbers, too, though. It should be a fun spectacle, given how it seems like it's a plan that's been in the works for awhile. Justin Simien told Entertainment Weekly back in January 2020 that he was looking forward to do "something ambitious and special and sort of unexpected" for the final season to go "out with a bang." That absolutely sounds like what's happening.

The musical may be front and center of this season's plot, but 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.

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment associate editor at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell.