UnReal fans have been subjected to your classic good news/bad news scenario today. The good? Season 4 of the Lifetime series has abruptly arrived in full bingeable form on Hulu! The bad? The show has been cancelled! – Ouch.
Indeed, in a fate that lines up with rumors, today’s surprise release of UnReal Season 4 marks an eight-episode series swan song. The cable-to-streaming transition was the result of a deal struck back in May between Hulu (already the show’s SVOD home,) and producer A+E Studios, who – at least, at the time – were still pondering a fifth season of the acclaimed series. As Craig Erwich, senior VP of content at Hulu says of the final season’s release in a statement:
“UnREAL has captivated audiences on Hulu since season one, so when this opportunity came to us, we knew we couldn’t miss out. This is a unique way to both satisfy fans of the show, while also continuing to introduce it to new audiences.”
UnReal launched back in June 2015, initially airing for three seasons on Lifetime, presenting a brutally honest picture about “reality” television through the behind-the-scenes setting of a fictional dating show, called “Everlasting.” Said picture is seen through the eyes of embattled low-level producer Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby) and ruthless executive producer Quinn King (Constance Zimmer), who each navigate the seedy underbelly of this arena of show business with extremely different attitudes. – The cast also featured Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Craig Bierko, Genevieve Buechner, Brennan Elliott and Josh Kelly.
During its apex, the series earned awards accolades with wins in the AFI, Critics Choice and Peabody awards, notably with 2016 Primetime Emmy nominations, with nods for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for star Constance Zimmer and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro along with Lifetime Network.
As A+E Studios’ Barry Jossen lauds in a statement:
“We love season four of UnREAL and its visionary creativity in bringing back many favorite characters for an all-star competition. When the opportunity to partner with Hulu arose, we immediately saw the huge benefit to UnREAL’s loyal fans, as well as a unique way of recruiting first-time viewers to this ground-breaking series. UnREAL has been an incredible ride filled with awards, critical recognition, committed fans and, best of all, insightful cultural dialogue throughout its run. We expect season four to deliver another great round of cultural influence with its timely themes.”
For UnReal, it’s reasonable to surmise that its ratings (which were never gigantic,) proved to be a source of its undoing. Season 3 of the series averaged 270,000 viewers, representing a near-50% decline from Season 2’s 505,000 viewers and Season 1’s 699,000. Nevertheless, it’s good to see that the loyalty of the show’s fans was rewarded with a measure of closure with a proper final season.