Though fans of Neal Gamby and Lee Russell will be disappointed that they won't see any more ridiculous antics from the wannabe high school principals, the HBO series Vice Principals will not be returning for Season 3 after this season's finale. It's not that the goofy comedy wasn't well-received — a short and sweet two seasons this was actually the plan all along.
“The whole series is only 18 episodes and that’s it," star Danny McBride told Variety at the first season's premiere last year. "We just wanted to make a really long movie. It’s one school year and a complete story. This was an old screenplay that Jody [Hill, co-creator] and I wrote back in 2006. But we needed it to be longer so we added and reworked it and broke it up into 18 segments.”
Vice Principals has followed its main characters as they viciously fight for the spot of school principal, which they both feel they deserve, and it gets... interesting. The show starts to play with its story and the rivalry between Gamby and Russell pretty quickly, and the two team up to unleash a weird and wonderful string of vengeance against those who have wronged them. McBride brings his signature crude and outrageous comedy to the table and co-star Walton Goggins is just as gut-bustingly funny. Luckily, though the show is saying goodbye for now, we may revisit these characters somewhere down the road eventually.
"This a completed tale, but I will say that I enjoyed working with Walton so much that who knows what could happen," McBride, who also co-created the show, told Entertainment Weekly.
By most accounts, the show has been a success. It boasts an 82 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and an 83 percent audience score. That doesn't mean it hasn't had its share of criticism as well — some have criticized the show's racial optics, according to Time — the principal the two protagonists are trying to bring down is an African American woman.
But McBride has denounced those critiques, saying the showrunners have tried to make it clear that the main characters are deeply flawed. "It’s a story about power and about how people think power can fix things that are dysfunctional in their own lives. That’s what these guys are dealing with. Both of these guys have lives that, in their own regards, are failed," he told Time. "A lot of times when you’re frustrated with where life ends up, you don’t have to go too far to find the cause of that. Sometimes it’s our own ambition. Sometimes our own misguided thoughts lead us to disappointment."
Kimberly Hebert Gregory, who plays the principal the duo attacks, echoed his sentiments. "This is actually what equality looks like," she told IndieWire. "And there’s an inherent question about her ability to be strong enough to stand with these people. It’s about power. And it’s not about race. And it’s not necessarily about gender."
McBride also said that he thinks there's a real appeal with this style of show. He wanted to tell a story fully and completely, and a limited run allows for a clean wrap and solid ending to the creators' vision. "I think I had been burned by too many TV shows that I invested in, where they started out great, and then, with each season, stuff changed, cast members left, and ultimately, at the end of the day, you don’t know if you saw the completed thing that the original creators had in mind," McBride told Entertainment Weekly in the same article. "So we wanted to create a show that finality to it, that had a beginning, middle, and end, and give people a complete story."
It sounds like audiences have been promised a relatively clean and tidy resolution, so when Vice Principals does come to its always-planned ending this week, fans of the show can prepare to properly say goodbye to this one-of-a-kind comedy.