Netflix lets loose slick satire Dear White People on the streaming world. Based on the 2014 film of the same name Dear White People returns as ten, 30-minute episodes. Naturally, controversy sprouted just from the trailer, and I can’t imagine what snowflakes will fall upon the Interwebs now that the show is out. If you’re like me and just want good stories, does Dear White People have something to say that’s worthy of attention?
The close-minded, unsympathetic, or those lacking general empathy
will simply not enjoy Dear White People.
Logan Browning fills the shoes of Samantha White, the character from the movie. The show is a reinvention of the film that returns Sam to Winchester University. Sam is a fierce proponent of equality and hosts a radio show called Dear White People. The show causes a stir on campus when Sam reports on a blackface-themed party thrown by white students known as the “Dear Black People Party.”
Readers might recognize Browning from Sony’s Powers show where she plays Zora. Browning’s handle on Sam is spot on from start to finish. She delivers razor sharp swipes of dialogue with cool confidence and opens up during emotional scenes with touching vulnerability. Kudos as well to the entire cast who create a diverse tapestry characters.
Writer and Director Justin Simien returns to write and direct many of the episodes. The entire project elevates an already solid film. As a show, the chance to explore this subject matter is further heightened.
Moment by moment, Dear White People adds a new layer of grey area on a host of debates that divide many people. Race relations, sexual orientation, equality, and the difficulty it is for all people, whether white, black, gay, or straight, to navigate it all. The gamut of topics is a wide and fearless net cast out on all of us.
The show barrels through the most hot-button topics of today like the Juggernaut busting through a wall.
Every episode of Dear White People is a chapter in a storm of tension at Winchester University both past and present. The chapters take us deeper into each character’s story as it relates to the Dear Black People Party. In Chapter Two, Lionel, a black journalism student struggles with the labels of sexuality. While investigating the party, Lionel is seduced into what looks like an eventual threesome, but it turns into a smart shift in the point of view of labels. In Chapter Four, CoCo, Sam’s one-time friend, helps create the idea of the Dear White People show while struggling to fit in with cool (i.e. “white”) kids.
In what might be the most moving episode, Chapter Five deals with the consequences of gun violence. But it’s not in the usual sense. No one is shot, but one character must deal with having a weapon pointed at them and existing within a fraction of a second of death. Best Picture Director for Moonlight, Barry Jenkins, takes the helm for this episode.
Dear White People explores and exposes all the grey area for it is — massive, ultimately irrelevant and self-defeating. The show’s real message is about holding a mirror up to yourself to look at the ugly truths that exist. There is no purity, only humanity, and all of us share similar flaws, fears, desires, and dream of things we want for ourselves.
The close-minded, unsympathetic, or those lacking general empathy will simply not enjoy Dear White People. The show barrels through the most hot-button topics of today like the Juggernaut busting through a wall. And if watched with an open mind, Dear White People is an intelligent and incorruptible critique of us all.