‘Casual’ Plays Well in Iowa

Casual is back on Hulu July 31. It’s the fourth and final season of the quirky comedy.

Hulu is releasing all eight episodes Tuesday. Creator/showrunner/exec producer Zander Lehmann said that’s an ideal setup for Casual.

“The show is best watched as a binge,” he said. “You want to tune in and see what happens next.”

Casual is about Valerie, a divorced mother, and her brother, Alex. Alex, Valerie and her daughter Laura live together. Michaela Watkins plays Valerie and Tommy Dewey plays Alex.

The show was nominated for a best comedy Golden Globe in 2015.

The new season is set five years into the future. It breaks a bit from the Valerie-Alex relationship that has defined Casual for much of its existence. Lehmann said Casual visits some “new spaces” with its futuristic setting, including technology and the world itself. Valerie, for one, is haunted by an Amazon Echo-like device that knows her a little too well.

“That’s fun stuff,” he said.

Next up for Lehmann is a Hulu miniseries with a sports theme, and a movie project. “The show has taken over so much of my life the last five years,” he said. “It was all of my 20s and into my 30s.”

Lehmann, who is 31, said he was always surprised when Hulu told him Casual was returning for another season. When Hulu said the next season would be its final one, Lehmann was psyched to know in advance that the end is coming. “It’s rare to know you’re writing to an ending,” he said. “It really feels like we get to go out on our own terms.”

The Casual gang will get together Tuesday night. “We’ll have dinner and celebrate,” Lehmann said, “drink some wine.”

Season four gets some high marks from critics. “Filling the ‘Casual’ vacancy will be easier said than done,” goes a Washington Post headline. It wasn’t widely reviewed, but there was this in the Sioux City (IA) Journal:

Casual is the kind of series that would have died after three episodes on a broadcast network. It might have lasted a season on basic cable. But, in the ever-expanding world of streaming, it found a place and has gotten to play out the way it should.”

So are there any unsung heroes in the Casual coterie that Lehmann would like to single out? The crew, in fact. “Everyone said they have the best crew,” said Lehmann. “We have the best crew. Basically it’s like a family.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone is content director at B+C and Multichannel News. He joined B+C in 2005 and has covered network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television, including writing the "Local News Close-Up" market profiles. He also hosted the podcasts "Busted Pilot" and "Series Business." His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Boston Globe and New York magazine.