May 05, 2017 by Tosh Farrell
Netflix released Justin Simien’s first television series, “Dear White People,” on April 28. It has since caused an uproar on multiple social media platforms.
Many Twitter users felt the title unfairly promoted anti-white sentiments. They pointed out that if there was a series called “Dear Black People,” it would be met with outrage, and began to use the hashtag “BoycottNetflix.”
Despite this negative publicity, the show has received some critical acclaim. This satirical Netflix series follows in the footsteps of a 2014 movie of the same name.
Using characters with the same names and the same fictional Ivy League backdrop, the 10 episodes explore racial relations further.
This series is a must-watch, whether you have seen the movie or not. For those who have, the series begins at the movie’s climax and moves on from there. For those who haven’t, the half-hour episodes feature a standalone plotline.
The story begins with Samantha White, who is played by Logan Browning. She is the host of a controversial radio show on her campus titled “Dear White People.” Her show is contentious with the administration, the not-so-diverse student body of Winchester University, and the school’s black community.
Sam’s words spawn the campus humor magazine, “Pastiche,” to plan a “Dear Black People” Halloween party, where guests don blackface.
As one would guess, the campus’ black community is not happy about this. They crash the party and bring the campus police in to shut it down. These events unravel in a matter of about two minutes, setting the fast pace of the show.
The show also tackles many common racial faux pas, including but not limited to: white people saying the N-word while listening to rap music, a campus ad photo depicting the student body’s “diversity,” the doll test and the idea that all black people look alike.
Even larger societal issues like our culture of labels, the realities of protesting in safe space culture, and society’s heteronormativity are dealt with. While commenting on all of these, the show remains light in character. It’s a comedy at heart, delivering quick one-liners between, and sometimes during, dialogue on heavy subjects.
Every episode is told primarily from the point of view of one character, giving each character depth. In the first episode characters like Reggie Green, Troy Fairbanks, Coco Conners and Lionel Higgins appear to be archetypes perpetuated by modern culture. But the following episodes take the time to flesh out the complex humans underneath their surface.
“Dear White People” does not leave out the conflicts which exist within the black community either. The characters are constantly working with and against each other. Depictions of competing student organizations and meetings with the dean outline the hypocrisy in claiming there is one way toward social change.
Some of the most informative conversations happen between the black characters that are at odds with each other. And some of the funniest moments are parodies of black culture, namely the hate-watched “Defamation,” an anything-but-subtle poke at Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal.”
The cinematography showcased in the series further enhances the story. The show breaks the fourth wall, as characters seem almost self-aware at times, talking directly to the camera but never breaking their onscreen conversation.
In conclusion, the show deftly examines many difficult and multisided issues that face a so-called “post-racial America” while remaining humorous. I would recommend a viewing of this show for everyone.
There are many things anyone can take away from this show if they give it a chance. This show may be the most eloquently relevant series to stream in 2017. If you claim to be woke, this is must-see TV.