Just gonna say this got a bit more political than a lot of my other reviews just from the nature of the show so please don’t expect me to sit on the fence.
Plot: White people get angry about everything, oh wait that’s the plot of the trailer’s Youtube comments.
Dear White People is a series based on a Justin Simien’s film of the same name about the trials and discrimination faced by black people at the fictional Winchester University as well as the relationships between the different groups of students at the University.
The series begins with a black-face party held by the satirical magazine ‘Pastiche’ at the university and the first few episodes are based on the responses of different students to this with each chapter looking into a character’s involvement and reaction to the party. After this, events start to spiral out in other and more serious directions.
As a whole Dear White People is brilliant. The show, as the title would suggest is largely based on showing how racism has become casually allowed into every area of life, even in a place supposedly seen as ‘forward-thinking’. It does this excellently, pointing out to the viewer the ways that even people who are well-meaning contribute to institutional prejudices and does it all without having to shout it at those watching and maintaining solid and regular laughs throughout. While it does often say out loud the major and obvious problems it also allows the viewer to see the more subtle problems themselves.
It also deals with issues inside the black community that many white people (myself included) will have never really heard about before such as difference in opinions in how to tackle the discrimination the characters are facing, whether to be up-front and protest or go via more subtle means. It also deals with the expectation to be in a relationship with people of the same race and the injustices within the black community itself, issues I hadn’t seen fully discussed on TV before.
One of the reasons the show is so excellent is the brilliant performances and direction throughout. Special acting praise goes to Brandon P. Bell who plays the student body President and son of the Dean, Troy, a role he also played in the film and DeRon Horton as the shy journalist who’s obsessed with his roommate, Lionel. There is also very thoughtful and funny direction with a number of different directors throughout the series including Chapter V being run by Barry Jenkins (off of Moonlight).
It is is very hard to talk about the show without at least mentioning the online controversy (if you don’t know the trailer had a huge number of dislikes and abuse hurled at it on Youtube) but if you actually watch the show rather than being preemptively offended by the idea that someone can criticise the race that holds significant privilege and is the majority then you might notice that your concerns are talked about and it is clearly pointed out how weak they are i.e. ‘if it was called Dear Black People it would be outrageous’, the party is literally called Dear Black People in the show… So basically to all the people angry, how about you actually watch the thing you’re meant to be offended by first.
I really can’t recommend Dear White People enough, it is the sort of intelligent social commentary the world needs now and gives those watching the bare minimum of understanding of the prejudice still faced by many today.
Just a quick note as well to say Dear White people is intensely NSFW with sex scenes of some description in most episodes. I say this because I watched the second episode which contains 4 extremely graphic non-child-friendly scenes with my Dad. I am officially scarred.