Netflix's dramedy Dear White People has taken a brand-new direction for its third season, now available for streaming. But will it be back for a season four? The third season ends with some major revelations and cliffhangers, but a fourth season is far from a sure thing.
In the past, it's taken a few months for Netflix to announce renewals for Dear White People. The second and third seasons were both announced within a month or two of their previous seasons beginning to stream. By that metric, we should hear about the show's future, one way or another, sometime in September or October. As per usual, though, we probably won't get any indicator before then: since it's a streaming show, not on broadcast TV, viewership numbers aren't publicly released, and Netflix pretty much always keeps its plans very secret.
A couple of things are working against Dear White People when it comes to a renewal, however. For one thing, the series is technically a Netflix original, since it's not broadcast anywhere else prior to release on Netflix, but it's not a wholly Netflix-owned production. Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate Television, both of which are owned by the studio Lionsgate, are the primary producers of the show; Netflix is simply the distributor. What does that have to do with Dear White People's chances at renewal? More than you might think. Since Dear White People is not fully owned by Netflix, it doesn't make as much money for the platform because Netflix gets a smaller cut of the profits than it would for "homegrown" productions. If Netflix believes that axing something like Dear White People would free up space for a more profitable show, it would be on the chopping block.
Dear White People, although it's critically acclaimed and popular among a subset of audiences, also faces an uphill climb in terms of pure viewership. The show's sharp, satirical look at college life and race in America is often praised, but it's also made it more of a niche show, rather than a smash crossover success. That's part of the reason, in all likelihood, that the promotional push for the new season has been considerably less than for some of the more high-profile Netflix shows. It turns into a vicious cycle: less promotion means fewer viewers, and fewer viewers mean a smaller share of the promotional budget.
So at this point, we don't know what the future holds for Dear White People, but we're hopeful this show sticks around for a few more seasons.