Netflix’s hit show “Dear White People” is back for a second season to discuss issues of privilege and race with an even closer eye and a deeper level of complexity, the show still provides light-hearted and relatable character arcs and plotlines.
This season is as outspoken and didactic as the name suggests, maybe even more so than the first. Showrunner Justin Simien never fails to find his footing with the overall tone, message and accessibility of the show. When many white people hear the name of the show they roll their eyes and think to themselves that they are plenty aware of the modern condition of black Americans. Others may even dismiss the show on the very principles that the show is working to rectify.
The second season picks up with Sam White (Logan Browning) and the other students of AP house dealing with the fallout of what transpired in last season’s finale. Tensions on the Winchester campus are high as Sam starts to receive more and more hate and pushback for her radio show “Dear White People.” Reggie Green (Marque Richardson) and Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell) are both struggling to come to terms with themselves and their experiences as both also stumble their way through the fight for racial progress. The characters also face more typical college problems like dealing with relationships, making friends, pregnancy scares and having a gun drawn on you by a cop at a party. You know, typical college things.
This progression of intensity is characteristic of the show itself and its subject matter. One moment things may seem to be going well, but the characters know there is always something lurking around the next corner that is just waiting to push them back or take them down a peg. This was as evident as ever in some of the storylines this season. To avoid spoilers, I’ll leave it at saying that there are multiple characters who face life altering experiences fueled with levels of drama one could laugh at in any other show. Something about the way the stories are told keeps them grounded and relatable, which is what the heart of the show is all about.
The goal of the show is to set out to educate and repair ignorance and to give black voices and opinions a platform, revealing the struggles that black Americans face today that people who don’t experience them first-hand fail to even know, let alone understand. The show makes use of incredibly compelling writing in both its narrative and dialogue to further both of these agendas with great success. One second you’ll be laughing and the next you’ll be on the edge of your seat or on the verge of tears.
This dynamic comes to a head in multiple episodes but specifically in “Chapter 8,” an episode where Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Gabe Mitchell (John Patrick Amedori), attempts to interview her for a documentary he’s making called “Am I Racist.” The episode deeply explores the issue of race in a social and romantic context in a way that masterfully compares and contrasts the two and makes for an emotionally heavy and devastating episode.
Despite the title being somewhat controversial, this show is not and never has been about producing and distributing white guilt. Instead, the show chooses to focus on two main ideas: empowering people of color with strong characters and representation of diverse mentalities about how to achieve equality and educating the uninformed about the issues that black people face on a daily basis.
If the title turns you off, I urge you to give the show a shot anyway. As it addresses in the show itself, it doesn’t set out to be combative. Instead, I have found both seasons of the show to be eye-opening and inspiring.
It is expertly crafted television. The soundtrack is catchy and well-fitted to on-screen events, and the show is beautifully shot and written. The characterization was fleshed out in this season and the plot, which covers topics from internet trolls to secret societies, managed to consistently keep things interesting. I would highly recommend giving the show a shot, and know that the second season improves upon what the first already did so well.