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Alien Worlds Season 2 - What We Know So Far

The intro on Netflix's original docufiction series, Alien Worlds, says, "By applying the laws of life on earth to the rest of the universe, it's possible to imagine what could live on alien worlds." Following the style made popular by the BBC's Blue Planet, the four-part series focuses on four exoplanets, which are located outside our solar system but resemble Earth. The show uses an intriguing mix of fact and fiction — and gorgeous visuals (both earthly and extraterrestrial, using CGI) — to imagine what life would be like on those planets. Released on December 2, 2020, Alien Worlds did so well that it became one of the U.K.'s Top 10 Netflix shows in its first week (via Forbes).

The series received a 100 percent Tomatometer score at Rotten Tomatoes: The critics were hooked, but the Audience Score came in at a much more tepid 62 percent, based on too much earthly footage and what many viewers felt was a lack of true science backing up its claims, along with a "dumbing down" of scientific concepts. Nevertheless, it's a show that has captured some imaginations. Here's what we know about a potential second season of Alien Worlds.

When will season 2 of Alien Worlds air?

Netflix has not greenlit Alien Worlds for another season yet. That doesn't mean it won't, and the show's popularity shows that some are waiting eagerly to find out if it'll return. At one point, it was apparently billed as a miniseries (although the official Netflix site calls it a TV series), which means it may have been slated as a limited-run series. But it wouldn't be the first limited series that was turned into a longer run due to popular demand.

Netflix is also known for keeping some series hanging for a few months as the streaming giant decides what to do with it. And, it's known for cancelling shows after their first seasons quite frequently. In explaining the strategy, Netflix's Global Head of TV Bela Bejaria told Deadline, "We order straight to series in the first rather than make pilots, which results sometimes in more season one cancellations. Even with that, I still believe a season order is still a better creative expression of a writer's idea so I still think that's the right model for us."

She noted that canceling a show is "painful," but Netflix orders so many shows to a first season, and it's always news when cancellations happen. Because Netflix does not release viewing numbers and has only given hints in the past regarding its process in deciding what to renew (via Wired), there's no reliable way of knowing when or if a renewal will come. Unfortunately, Alien Worlds didn't get much press prior to release so we don't know how long production of the first season took. That means we can't extrapolate that time frame to a new season and guess at how long it would take from approval to release. 

Who is in the cast of Alien Worlds?

Alien Worlds is narrated by Sophie Okonedo, a British actress who's been seen on Hotel Rwanda, His Dark Materials, and Doctor Who. She and her calming voice would be expected to return in the event of a renewal. The series generally includes a blend of scientists and experts discussing aspects of life on Earth and discoveries in space, but she is the main credited cast member. A second series would likely follow the show's already-established formula and include additional experts, including microbiologists, astronauts, astrophysicists, ecologists, and others to create a basis for the speculative part of the show. 

The series is executive produced by Jeremy Dear (Nova, How the Earth Was Made) and Tim Lambert. If any major changes are made to the cast and crew in a potential upcoming season, hopefully that information will come along with a second season renewal.

What will the plot be for the second season of Alien Worlds?

There's certainly enough material for a second season — outer space is filled with fascinating planets, and imagination seems to be the only limit here, after all. In the case of Alien Worlds, each episode focuses on one imaginary exoplanet and the possibilities for wildlife there based on earthly principles.  Basically, it's fantasy world-building, so the potential subjects are limitless. 

Documentaries don't necessarily have a plot per se, but there is a general structure they follow. In the first season, the four planets focused upon were Atlas, a larger planet with a bigger gravitational pull, as well as Janus, a planet orbiting a red dwarf star, then Eden, an oxygen-rich planet orbiting a binary star system, and Terra, a planet with an alien race so advanced they're terraforming another planet in their solar system. Naturally, the discussion in that episode included an investigation of Area 51 and the possibilities of humans communicating with alien civilizations.

Presumably, a second season of the show would follow the same format as the first, helping us to visualize infinite diversity in infinite combinations, as Star Trek's Vulcans might say. However, that second season still needs approval, so fans will have to be patient a while longer.