UPDATE June 21: We now know it’s officially happening and broke some shocking cast departures and story changes here.
Some pretty big news broke today courtesy SpoilerTV. We were waiting to receive more concrete information about the source of the alleged casting call and the incredible NickandMore on Twitter has since revealed reputable source ShowFax as the origin.
Burying the lede a bit – Raven’s Home (2017) on Disney Channel has been quietly renewed for an unexpected 5th season, shattering Disney Channel’s “4-season” rule once and for all. This news comes from a casting call posted June 9th seeking two actors for roles in Season 5.
Bunk’d (2015) broke the previous 4-season limit for Disney Channel live-action series last year. Many, including myself believed this to be a fluke resulting from the significant cast turnover between seasons 3-4 when the 3 cast members spun-off from Jessie (2011) – Peyton List, Karan Brar, and Skai Jackson departed. With Miranda May the sole remaining original cast member and Season 3 and 4’s new cast including future superstar Mallory James Mahoney, Will Buie, Raphael Alejandro, Israel Johnson, and Shelby Simmons having all endeared themselves to viewers, I suspected the clock “resetting” on contracts left it akin to a new show. Yeah, so this de-bunks that.
There is a possibility this is not accurate – though that seems unlikely. As recently as last week Raven-Symoné continued to say in interviews no official decision had been made. I took this to be PR-Speak until her contract expired. It seemed the odds were stacked – a crew member said the show was over on the last day of filming. While Disney released a statement saying they misspoke, this is standard protocol and Disney likes to wait until the final episodes are about to air or aired before announcing an ending. Often, they don’t even announce it at all as was the case for recently cancelled Coop & Cami Ask the World (2018), Fast Layne (2019), and Just Roll With It (2019) which they swept under the rug without fanfare.
Why This Matters
The most likely reason for ending their 4-season rule is Disney+. Now more than ever Disney needs additional content and when shows like Raven’s Home have an established cast, existing sets, and a healthy work environment, it’s easier to keep them running then start over. There is a possibility the show could pivot to Disney+ and evolve from a TV-G to a (rare for Disney Channel) TV-PG to more accurately depict Booker (Isaac Ryan Brown) and Nia (Navia Robinson) navigating their sophomore year. Most Disney Channel series stop before the kids age that far. As much as I’d like to see this, I think it’s unlikely. Disney Branded Television has yet to move any series or films. (I’m a strong believer ZOMBIES 3 (2022) should be a Disney+ Original.)
Regardless, Disney+ could be the impetus for this change of philosophy. Anything aired on Disney Channel is headed to Disney+ shortly after and with the new strategy of releasing batches of episodes as the seasons air instead of waiting until the season ends, Disney+ benefits faster. Longer runs for Disney Channel series also provide more episodes for Disney+ and more bingeable series for a service lacking series that extend beyond 4 years.
Raven’s Home season 4 was certainly written as a series finale, just in case. SPOILERS – The episode focuses on new beginnings and growth. Levi is off for the summer to visit his grandparents. Booker and Nia are learning to drive. Devon is moving back to Chicago as hints appear of rekindling his relationship with Raven. It wraps with Chelsea and Raven reflecting on how their lives have always been intertwined and they quote the Raven’s Home theme song. The final line is “Raven’s Not Home.”
I’ve always considered Raven’s Home a highlight of their lineup as it strays away from low-brow humor and gently tackles more serious issues. Sydney to the Max (2019) does this as well and despite the lowbrow humor, Bunk’d has noticeably shifted to deeper character moments since the Jessie kids left. Secrets of Sulphur Springs (2021) is just fantastic.