Dear White People Season 2 Review
Dear White People Season 2 Review by Rovell Vialva
Dear white People Season 2 was dope and here’s why (No Spoilers)
2014 was a unique year for me. I was coming to the end of my college career at Temple University, discovering my love of photography and video, and learning about the culture surrounding African Americans and neoliberalism.
There was a lot I didn’t understand about black neoliberalism. Even while navigating the early learning phase, there was still a ton I hadn’t quite grasped.
Thankfully, the film “Dear White People” sprung forth from the ether and brought a lot of clarity to a subject that, for me, was characterized by snarky social media posts and out of context quotes from black authors.
The film, written and directed by Justin Simien, was a loving satire of “woke” black kids in college.
Rather than the weak stereotypes we get via Wayans Brothers films, Dear White People gave us sincere representations of people many of us were educated next to and put them in funny situations.
Thankfully, the comedy aspect of the film never undercut the film’s core mission of exploring what it is like to be a black face in a white space.
The main thing that Dear White People lampoons (besides the uninformed opinions of carefree white folk) are the performative aspects of black activism.
A great example of this is displayed by way of the film’s main character Sam White (Tessa Thompson)
In the film, Sam has a secret interest in pop music made by white pop divas like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
Sam goes to great lengths to hide this interests as the idea of her friends finding out that she enjoys that kind of music could call her blackness and devotion to “the cause” into question.
This devotion is already implicitly fragile to onlookers as Sam is not only lighter complexioned than most of her peers but she's also half white (Pun intended).
The film is peppered with instances like this and, in doing so, it brings a brief but loud voice to the unexplored minutia of the black experience.
As someone who considers himself part of one of the rarely explored corners of black culture, the Dear White People film made my exploration of black liberal culture an immersive experience rather than something I was just watching from behind plate glass.
Years passed and, though I never forgot about the little film that started it all, I aimed my focus at not only educating myself but also forming opinions based on my own core beliefs. Opinions that could evolve and reshape with the introduction of new facts. In roughly two years I’d grown significantly.
I’d grown so much that I’d even realized that the film that helped start me on this journey was essentially middling when it came to its overall message. This is especially true near the films conclusion where Sam basically shrugs off her critics and goes to live happily ever after with her white boyfriend.
I still loved the film despite this but, apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had this criticism.
A few years after the film's release, Dear White People the series popped up on netflix.
The series retcons the ending of the film letting Sam (This time played by Logan Browning) remain in her activism rather than skip off into the sunset with her bae (Though their relationship is still alive and well which I ultimately have no problem with)
The series also gives Sam a confidant and friend by the name of Joelle Brooks (Ashley Blaine Featherson). Joelle is equally intelligent, dovetails Sam’s activism and, like a true friend, isn’t afraid to check Sam if she gets out of hand.
The serial nature of the Netflix format is used to its fullest in Simien’s hands.
Simien uses the opportunity and additional time to not only expand the world of Dear White People but evolve the characters making them even more multi-dimensional than their film counterparts.
By the time season 2 rolls around, almost every character is interconnected through some interaction with each other from the previous season. Though they’re far from friends, they all acknowledge each other's humanity and there’s a layer of respect that they all have for each other after going through some rough experiences together.
The second season’s focus explores more of how the current political climate and online culture has affected activism; a subject previously unexplored by Simien.
The second season also shows the dark, surreal, and less humorous side of performative activism on display in the film by reintroducing some familiar faces.
I won’t spoil who those faces are here but trust that the meta-narrative moment that comes, as a result, will make the Deadpool writers reconsider how talented they actually are at the whole “fourth-wall breaking” thing.
This series and it’s continued improvement is proof positive that Simien’s story was made for a format like Netflix.
I’ll be excited to see the turns and twists the story takes. If you haven’t checked it out already, give Dear White People a watch. You will not regret it.