Casual, one of Hulu’s first originals, has always been an overlooked television show — despite its critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination. It’s a quiet comedy featuring a small word and a simple premise: Newly-divorced Valerie (Michaela Watkins) and her teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) move in with Valerie’s younger brother (Tommy Dewey). Each of them casually dates people, largely unsuccessfully. But it’s also a deeply heartfelt and well-written show, with superb acting throughout. It took popular topics (dating, restarting your life, growing up) and found new ways to consider them, buoyed by characters that we quickly grew to love.
The fourth season — which Hulu is dropping today in its entirety — is also Casual‘s last. It’s a show I’m sad to see go, but fortunately, the writers knew ahead of time and they effortlessly stick the landing (which is hardly surprising, especially in the wake of the show’s terrific third season).
Ahead of the premiere, Uproxx had a spoiler-filled chat with creator Zander Lehmann about the final season, major changes for all the characters, and a future without the NFL.
(Warning: there are spoilers for all of ‘Casual’ season four ahead.)
Going into the season four, you knew it was going to be the last. What were your goals with ending it on your own terms?
Showing that the characters had grown some was important to us. In the first couple of seasons they oscillate between growth and no-growth, and I wanted to send them off properly where they seemed like they were in a better place, and good with each other. And, honestly, I wanted kind of a happy ending. The end of season three is not so happy and I felt like we could do a service to these characters by sending them off properly and giving them something to look forward to. That was the main goal with it. And also, just to feel like satisfied — that the audience felt like they had seen a full arc, that they’d seen characters become something. They saw them sort of grow.
The season starts with a time jump so we see everyone in different stages. Alex is now a father, Valerie is starting a new career, Laura is returning from abroad. What’s behind this decision?
We felt like we only had eight episodes to tell what we hoped would be a satisfying final story and we didn’t want to spend time building to a place. Essentially, we didn’t want to have to sit and watch these characters suffer with each other and try to repair a lot of the problems they had made in season three. In reality, this is something that happens: time passes and time heals some wounds and some wounds go untreated. It was a real thing that these characters all moved on with their lives in a way, separating from each other. Laura’s out in the world, Alex is raising his kid, Val is trying to figure it out.
Also, we wanted to explore some fun near-future stuff that I don’t think we’ve ever really seen in this sort of [show]. The thought of doing, “What does the world look like in four years? How do [our characters] struggle in it? How do they have fun with it?” That was all really exciting for us.