This season of “Dear White People” shows the principle characters dealing in that muck and quagmire of institutional racism at the crossroads of intersectionality throughout the story arc. With the first season of “Dear White People”, crafted from the motion picture of the same name about the black students of Winchester University attending a fictional Ivy League institution, audiences were gifted with one of the most uniquely inclusive television shows that I have ever seen in my four decades on this planet. Season 2 expands upon the success of season 1, and spices it up.
Though less ambitious projects may have simply rested on those laurels as surface “sweetener” while failing to explore the deeper issues that connect and divide various cultural groups, “Dear White People” dives in head first, gleefully exploring the intersections between the multitude of groups where lesser offerings would fail to dig deeper in any tangible way.
“One of the amazing things about films is they can transcend cultures,” Simien told The Shadow League last year. “Even though the characters are experiencing American-specific racism and identity politics, at the core of these are young people trying to navigate the world, trying to figure out who they are, and what version of themselves to present.”
Let’s break it down: Cultural appropriation, sex and gender norms, racist bots, conspiracy theories, Jesus, weed, The Sunken Place and WAY more. Dear White People Volume 2 coming soon on Netflix.
“These are young people trying to grow up in a really complicated world. I just think that’s a experience all of us have had at some point, ” Simien added. “These kids just happen to be black and happen to be dealing with racial politics in America. But that’s not the part that I think really is the most compelling thing about the show.”
The first season dealt with these issues via the black student radio show Dear White People, and much of the drama was situated around how the white students perceived and reacted to the show’s host Samantha Williams, played by actress Logan Browning. In the second season, the titular characters were in some way reacting to the racial blowback from that show, and the resulting reaction from the mainstream student body to this paradigm.
In season 2, showrunner Justin Simien and writer Njeri Brown decided on a different approach to storytelling. While last season was purely chronological, this season the main characters each has an episode with a narrative from their respective viewpoints.
The first episode features Samantha as she continually deals with white reactionism and fragility resulting from her show. White nationalist twitter trolls, black contrarianism and a burgeoning mystery regarding the perceived attempt by school administrators to marginalize black student groups.
Reggie, played by actor Marque Richardson, ended Season 1 staring down the barrel of a gun brandished by a campus security guard. It was a very traumatic experience for him. Episode 2 of Season 2 finds him dealing with the feelings of anger, fear, and depression that resulted from the incident. It is especially impactful considering the ongoing calamity of blue on black violence that has permeated the news cycle seemingly at an increased rate for nearly a decade.
Welcome back to Winchester, this is the remix. Dear White People Volume 2 hits Netflix May 4th. Watch Dear White People on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/in/title/80095698 SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/29qBUt7 About Netflix: Netflix is the world’s leading Internet television network with over 117 million members in over 190 countries enjoying more than 125 million hours of TV shows and movies per day, including original series, documentaries and feature films. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on nearly any Internet-connected screen.
Episode three gives the audience a more intimate look at Lionel, played by DeRon Horton. This season explores how he is dealing with his newfound sexuality and his desire to find a place among his peers as an intellectually gifted person of color via his research into the history of secret societies at his school. While episode four shines the spotlight on CoCo Clemons, played by actress Antoinette Robertson.
Though Season 1 portrayed her as something of a sycophant to white sensibilities, Season 2 delves into her motivations. In effect, humanizing her to a far greater extent. She is no longer the cookie-cutter black “white girl” selling out her culture for acceptance, but a woman traumatized by childhood poverty and familial relations who’s simply trying to find her place in this mess we call life.
The urge to judge each of these characters may be overwhelming for some; the revolutionary mixed black girl dating a white guy, the young gay dude deciding his place in the world, the angry black guy emasculated by the threat of white violence, bourgeoisie black chick who’s really from the hood, the youthful promiscuity of all the youth portrayed, the lack of unity between black-led student groups.
But the ability to polarize and galvanize is what makes for good drama, and season 2 has plenty of drama.
Yes, I’m fully aware that this is supposed to be a comedy. While I do think Season 1 was a bit funnier, Season 2’s apparent conscious effort to give these characters substance makes for heavier interactions between the characters. Nine of the ten episodes in Season 2 deal with a specific character, with the tenth bringing the entire season to a crescendo while still raising a multitude of questions.
In addition to fleshing out the characters, Season 2 tries to pull the sheet off the hidden mechanisms and sensibilities of institutional racism throughout the entire story arc, culminating in a big reveal in the final episode.
My only criticism was the dialogue between the characters, and that of the narrator as well. It seemed superfluous to a certain extent. I wanted to be shown more and told less. However, the big reveal in episode 10 does explain why the narrator was omnipresent in both seasons.
“Dear White People ” Vol. 2 is timely, necessary, tackling controversial issues head-on. There are no good guys or bad guys, only young people sloshing through a world filled with quagmires and pitfalls. For cultural-relevance, contemporary significance and daring storytelling, Season 2 of “Dear White People” is a great watch from the first episode to the last.