By Nia Todd
Published: May 10th, 2017
Last week, Netflix debuted its latest series, “Dear White People,” named after the 2014 movie of the same name. The show follows a group of black students at a predominantly white college and picks up right where the movie left off. In this go-round, we see some new faces like Logan Browning (plays Samantha White), DeRon Horton (plays Lionel Higgins), and Antoinette Roberston (plays Colandrea “CoCo” Conners). Others like Brandon P. Bell (Troy Fairbanks), Ashley Blaine Featherson (Joelle Brooks) and Marque Richardson (Reggie Green) reprise their roles from the film, and Giancarlo Esposito (Rebel, Once Upon A Time) serves as the series narrator.
“Dear White People” brings awareness to the characters’ experiences with various forms of discrimination.
Race is a big deal at the fictional Winchester University, an Ivy League school that places all of their students on a pedestal. However, no matter how liberal and progressive the administrators try to make the school seem, there is still a system of racism and prejudice acting as a shadow to campus life. This shadow is often addressed by Samantha White on her controversial radio show “Dear White People.” Her passion for equality puts her at odds with a lot of people due to how she chooses to deliver her messages. Oddly enough, it’s this same passion that draws people to her like a magnet. Sam is undeniably the heart of the activism scene.
Outside of Sam trying to change campus culture one protest at a time, we see the plights of other characters spilling out over the ten half-hour episodes. For instance, fellow activist and potential love interest Reggie; nerdy but lovable Lionel, who writes for the school’s paper; the do-gooder all American Troy (Lionel’s roommate and current crush); and “CoCo,” the girl who has spent most of her life in white schools while trying to maintain a black identity. It’s a melting pot of flaws and witty comebacks that serve as fillers until someone can come to an attainable solution. No one is who they seem, and that is the best part of the show. The character development happens gradually. Nothing is rushed for the sake of connecting back to the main plot. These characters are not only diverse in narrative but in their ideologies as well. It isn’t easy for them to understand each other, but they try to the best of their abilities even when it might be too late.
The acting on this show is beyond amazing and might even be better than what was portrayed in the movie. It’s natural, pairing beautifully with the show’s sharp writing. Split up into chapters, each episode caters to a different point of view, in turn crafting a well-rounded story surrounding the political climate of Winchester. Though, not all of the show is about political debates. It does take place on a college campus, after all, so there are plenty of secret hook ups, love triangles and trysts. Not to mention the average best friend drama in between watching the “Scandal-esq” “Defamation” thriller in the common room. Sometimes they say dumb things, sometimes they do even dumber things, but everything has a lesson.
“Dear White People” has the capability to spark tough conversations on college campuses across the nation. While tackling prevalent issues such a police brutality and the effects of colorism, the show gives a view of the humane side of these issues. These images can be reaffirming when words are simply not enough.
Speaking of words, don’t let the three-worded controversial title stop you from clicking ‘play.’