At SDCC 2019, Seth MacFarlane announced his Star Trek-inspired series The Orville would become a Hulu Original for season 3. The series premiered on FOX in the fall of 2017 becoming a ratings hit for the network. While fans of science fiction (particularly Star Trek: The Next Generation) found a new series to be excited about, the critical response to the series was mixed, with many citing the blurred lines between comedy and drama, as well as the questionable elements of parody as problems early on. Nevertheless, the series was renewed for a second season, which premiered late in 2018, leaving the story of the Orville wide open for a third season.
The series is hardly the first to make the season-to-season jump from network to streaming service, as it now joins the ranks of Lucifer, The Expanse, Designated Survivor, and more. The Orville is also not the first FOX property to become a Hulu original, as Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project did so for its final seasons after initially being canceled by the network. The only difference is that MacFarlane’s is jumping ship to the streaming service as a way of better accommodating the production schedule for his show.
Hulu revealed the news in an official release, which included MacFarlane’s announcement and explanation for the show’s move while speaking at SDCC 2019. MacFarlane has this to say:
“The Orville has been a labor of love for me, and there are two companies which have supported that vision in a big way: 20th Century Fox Television, where I’ve had a deal since the start of my career, and FOX Broadcasting Company, now FOX Entertainment, which has been my broadcast home for over 20 years. My friends at the network understood what I was trying to do with this series, and they’ve done a spectacular job of marketing, launching and programming it for these past two seasons. But as the show has evolved and become more ambitious production-wise, I determined that I would not be able to deliver episodes until 2020, which would be challenging for the network. So we began to discuss how best to support the third season in a way that worked for the show. It’s exactly this kind of willingness to accommodate a show’s creative needs that’s made me want to stick around for so long.”
With The Orville moving from broadcast television to a streaming service, the question becomes how and if the shift will alter the show itself. The lack of content restrictions could dramatically alter the series, especially with regard to its attempts at humor. Previous seasons have seen MacFarlane and his writers’ room navigate the network sensors when it comes to the show’s sometimes crude humor, so it will be interesting to see if The Orville pushes the envelope in that regard and boldly goes into R-rated territory in season 3.
The Orville season 3 is expected in 2020 exclusively on Hulu.