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Special season 2 release date, cast, plot and trailer – what we know about the Netflix comedy

The Emmy-nominated comedy returns with a second, and final, season.

Ryan O'Connell as Ryan Hayes, a male with brown hair and eyeglasses, wears a blue and white patterned button down and a smile on his face. He is seated at a desk and a vibrant office is visible behind him.

After nabbing four short-form Emmy nominations, it’s no surprise that Netflix comedy Special has been renewed for a second season.

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Ryan O’Connell’s semi-autobiographical show tells the story of Ryan Hayes, a young gay man with cerebral palsy.

In season one, he decided to rewrite his identity by presenting himself as an accident victim, so he could go after the life he really wanted; now, in season two, things are a little bit different as our primary characters “come into their power and realise they all deserve big gorgeous lives”.

Special season 2 release date: When is it coming to Netflix?

CONFIRMED: Special season two will be released on Netflix on 20th May 2021.

The show first debuted in April 2019, and it was recommissioned for a second season in December 2019. Scripts were finished in mid-January 2020, and filming is now complete.

Has Special been cancelled?

Sadly, this season of Special will also be the last – as Netflix has decided not to renew the drama after season two.

“People will be surprised that Special is ending but this is just the tip!” O’Connell told The Hollywood Reporter in March 2021. “I’m not finished telling stories about disability. I’m not finished telling queer stories. This is really just a beginning of a new chapter, so hang tight, baby, I’m coming!”

Special season 2 cast: Who stars in it?

Ryan O’Connell will of course return as his semi-autobiographical alter ego Ryan Hayes, with co-stars Jessica Hecht and Punam Patel also reprising their roles as Ryan’s mother Karen and friend Kim respectively.

Series regulars Marla Mindelle, Augustus Prew and Patrick Fabian also return for season two.

Max Jenkins, who previously starred in Netflix drama Dead to Me, joins the cast as Tanner.

Is there a Special season 2 trailer?

Take a look at the trailer for season two of the Netflix drama.

Special season 2 plot: What is it about?

*Warning: spoilers for season one*

Season one saw a mostly happy ending for Ryan as he moved out of home, revealed to his co-workers that he has cerebral palsy and finally started to live life on his own terms. However, tensions reached an all-time high with his overprotective mother Karen, resulting in Ryan walking out of her birthday meal after a bitter argument – so season two will hopefully see the two work on patching up their relationship.

“Ryan really needs to get his s**t together,” says Netflix in the official synopsis for season two. “It’s been two months and he still hasn’t spoken to Karen since their fight and he has a gnarly case of writer’s block that’s getting him in hot water with Olivia. Enter Tanner, a fun, flirty dance instructor who charms Ryan despite not being totally available.

Max Jenkins as Tanner, a light-skinned male with brown hair, and Ryan O'Connell as Ryan Hayes, a light-skinned male with brown hair and eyeglasses, smile and pose together for a prom photo. Tanner wears a purple suit with a pink shirt, purple bow tie, and black shoes. Ryan wears a powder blue suit with a blue bow tie. pink corsage, and white shoes. An underwater themed backdrop is visible behind them.
Tanner and Ryan in Special season 2 (Netflix)

“When his writer’s block eventually lifts, he’s inspired to write a long-form piece about disability. From there, he begins a journey of self-discovery that creates unexpected complications in his relationship with Tanner. Meanwhile, Kim lets her guard down when she meets Harrison, a sensitive tech mogul with a humble background – but her insecurities and jealous tendencies continue to hamper her personal life and threaten to push Harrison away. With her spiralling credit card debt driving Kim even further towards rock bottom, she makes a hard choice to regain control of her finances and personal life.”

And it sounds a like a lot has changed for Karen since the events of the season one finale.

“Since taking care of Ryan was her life’s purpose until their fight, Karen realises that she needs to take an active approach to create a fulfilling life for herself – beyond just taking care of her ailing mother,” Netflix tells us. “Will she be content with continuing to clean up everyone else’s messes, or will Karen be able to lean into her newfound independence and create a life that centres around her own desires for once?

“This season is about our primary characters –Ryan, Karen and Kim –coming into their power and realising they all deserve big gorgeous lives – whether society agrees or not, b***h!”

How long are Special’s episodes?

Season one clocked in at 15 minutes an episode. After season one, O’Connell told THR that he was hoping for half-hour episodes in the future so he could go more in-depth with supporting characters like Kim, finding the 15-minute limitation “frustrating”.

Netflix seems to have listened to him. Season two is eight episodes long, and each episode is now between 26 and 34 minutes in length.

Is Special based on a book?

Yes – Special is based on 2015 memoir I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves by Ryan O’Connell, who is also the creator, writer and star of the Netflix show.

How to watch Special online

Special season one is available to watch on Netflix now, and season two will be available on Netflix in the UK and across the globe.

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You can order I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves on Amazon. Special season 2 arrives on Netflix on 20th May. While you’re waiting, check out our guides to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our Drama hub for more coverage and find something to watch tonight with our TV Guide.