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The streaming giant has handed out an early fourth — and final — season renewal to its young adult breakout hit from Paramount Television. The news arrives as the third season has also landed a return date, with all 13 episodes launching Aug. 23. Production on the final season is underway.
Season four — which does not yet have a return date or episode count — will feature the core cast’s graduation from high school. Season three, sources say, will not feature a suicide.
That decision arrives after Netflix last month decided to alter the controversial season one finale that featured the graphic suicide of the show’s central character, Hannah (played by breakout Katherine Langford). The nearly two-minute scene was edited and effectively scrubbed some two years after the show launched to strong reviews and almost immediate backlash for glorifying suicide.
The renewal continues to stretch the controversial series well beyond Jay Asher’s book of the same name that inspired season one. The series, from showrunner Brian Yorkey, was renewed for a surprise second season following its celebrated first run after the drama was originally developed as a one-off limited series. 13 Reasons Why was one of multiple series to continue after breaking through the cluttered scripted landscape that is expected to top 500 series in 2019. (Other programs to stretch beyond their “limited runs” include HBO’s Big Little Lies, for example.)
The path to the show’s renewal was cleared last August when the cast — including leading man Dylan Minnette — all inked rich new deals for season three that also has an option for a fourth cycle.
After launching with a 79 percent among critics, season two was critically panned and holds a 25 percent rating on RottenTomatoes.com. (Netflix, like other streamers, does not release viewership data.) Overall, 13 Reasons Why has a 52 percent rating among critics and a 70 percent audience score.
Still, the decision to wrap the series arrives as Netflix has a penchant for ending shows sooner rather than later as the streamer weighs the cost of producing the series against its return on investment. Sources say Netflix is prone to redistributing financial resources to new series, as those tend to bring in more subscribers than veteran shows. 13 Reasons Why is a pricey drama — especially after the cast’s renegotiations — and is produced by an outside studio (Paramount TV), meaning Netflix has to pay a licensing fee to secure the rights to the show.
Yorkey exec produces alongside Joy Gorman, Mandy Teefey, Kristel Laiblin, Selena Gomez and the late Steve Golin for Anonymous Content. Tom McCarthy exec produced season one. Brandon Flynn, Alisha Boe, Justin Prentice, Christian Navarro, Miles Heizer, Devin Druid and Ross Butler round out the cast.
Prentice, Timothy Granaderos, Anne Winters, Steven Weber, Brenda Strong, Amy Hargreaves and Grace Saif round out the season three cast. Yorkey will remain showrunner through the final season.
The trailer reveals the big mystery that will surround season three: Bryce Walker (Prentice) appears to be the football player who went missing. The characters are all shown at his funeral before the question is posed: Who killed Bryce Walker?
Watch the trailer for season three below.
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