With the fallout from season one’s protests at Town Hall, and the fire at the Davis House forcing integration at Armstrong-Parker, the Black students are pushed to adapt. Samantha White (Logan Browning) deals with trolls for being a dual-heritage activist, while in an ongoing dispute with Gabe Mitchell (John Patrick Amedori). Reggie Green (Marque Richardson) seeks ways of dealing with his traumas; Coco Conners (Antoinette Robertson) is learning how to lead. Now, not writing for the campus paper, Lionel Higgins (DeRon Horton) is looking for something new in his writing career, as well as coming to terms with his sexuality. Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell) looks for his identity.
Apart from Dear White People, Fargo is the only film to TV transition I have seen which stands up next to the original and Dear White People is one of the best things on television. I hear few people talking about it and see fewer critics reviewing it. Season two excelled like its predecessor. It’s divisive but it really shouldn’t be – to the point that YouTube comment sections have been closed even before the show has aired. Nonetheless, this show has found its place on Netflix, comfortable in its narratives and the subjects it can attack without feeling the need to soften the blow (out of fear of offending this person and that person). If this was cable, that’s what would have happened.
The Netflix political satire rocks the boat and this season gave us Sam (Browning) and Gabe (Amedori) having it out, fighting through their feelings in her recording studio. From heated arguments to Sam saying “Are you aware of your White saviour complex?” this episode is really something, exploring the complicated relationship between Sam and Gabe, and it only escalates. Sam’s talk with Gabe reminds me of the conversation between Gilbert Joseph (David Oyelowo) and Bernard Bligh (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the closing moments of Small Island, adapted from the Andrea Levy novel; no matter how much Gilbert explains, Bernard doesn’t get it.
Sam is a mix-match of Spike Lee and Angela Davis, though now losing interest as a radio journalist, falling into the Black hole of getting into arguments with Twitter trolls. Reggie (Richardson) is experiencing PTSD after his encounter with the campus police officer who shoved a gun in his face. Lionel is looking for new things after his big story, delving into the history of secret societies, while Troy (Bell) is a changed man after going against the grain of being his father’s puppet. No longer the campus’ token Black mascot (to justify how correct their politics are). Out of the grip of the establishment, I think he’s beginning to see some of that Black freedom (or lack of).
Every character is facing a change. The Davis House fire forced integration and not everyone is adapting so well. Dear White People, at its core, is asking the question “How do we talk about differences in public places when society is too scared to talk about topics that leave people tongue-tied and uncomfortable?” Is it ever okay to say the N-word? Are all opinions equal? Is there a line to be drawn in free speech? How do we talk about things like race and racism when Europe and America still find it hard to broach subjects like colonialism? Unless it’s Black History Month. This show is political to the bone, debating the interlinked broadsheet of race, culture and identity.
Series creator Justin Simien, and co, have done well with this series; I very much liked the exploration of the alt-right (Dear Right People) and the introduction of TV pundit Rikki Carter played by Tessa Thompson (the original Sam White in the 2014 film). From race politics to cultural appropriation to sex and gender norms to filmmaking ethics (and oppression featuring The Migos), this show would seemingly work as one you’d watch weekly, in the same way as Community and Big Bang Theory. However, we’re past weekly slots now. Additionally, I do not think it would survive cable. Much alike how The Man in the High Castle (what if the Nazis won WW2?) is on Amazon.
Dear White People is one show I will continue to review because it’s just so damn interesting and one of the most unique series on television, and in my top five Netflix Original Series. From writing to directing to acting and social comment, the series is as much drama as it is political satire, bringing me laughs in the Black experience. There is no right way to be Black today. Everyone’s experience is different but this series shows many stories that millions will find something in.