Dear white people,
I'm not sorry that your skin was so paper thin that you attempted to boycott the Netflix adaptation of Dear White People before it even aired. The idea that a TV series depicting the experience of black students on an Ivy League Campus and the issues surrounding that is utterly ridiculous. I'm sure none of you planned to watch it anyway, nor did you watch the movie, so you can't boycott something you've never supported to begin with.
Now with that out of the way lets talk about the Netflix adaptation of the film Dear White People. The show is supposed to be set shortly after the film and deals with the fallout from the black face party thrown on the campus. It's split into separate chapters each focusing on a different character and their day to day struggle. They do this so it seems like they give each character their own individual intertwining story.
I don't actually have any problem with the main story. In the wake of the party white people flock to the new class president Troy for passes for their actions. Sam's radio show gets more intense. Reggie has a gun pulled on him by campus security that causes a protests. Everyone finds out about Sam and Gabe, she cheats on him with Reggie and they break up. After sleeping with Sam after trying to date her since the first day of their freshman year all the way up until now, when they're pursuing masters. Reggie comes to the conclusion that he doesn't really like Sam and Joelle has been there for him since the beginning every time Sam would blow him off. Lionel finally comes out. Coco realizes she doesn't need approval from Sam, the sorority or Troy and can break out on her own. Troy gets arrested and finally breaks free from his father's reign. Blah blah blah, the problem wasn't the stories, they were great.
The problem I had with the show was how they handled certain characters and their interactions. For starters, the biggest issue I saw was with how they handled the characters of Joelle and Coco. The show spent all this time about how it was important to be woke and everyone ignored Joelle was just as woke as Sam until the end when Reggie was the only one to acknowledge it. She was treated like a side kick to Super Sam and nothing more. We barely know anything about her as an individual.
As for Coco, it kind of hurt seeing the way she was treated. We see flashbacks to her child hood where she would be forced to play with the dark skinned doll because it was "ugly," like her according to the other kids. When she first got to campus the sorority only settled for her because Sam was uninterested. Later she talks about it and people just shrug it off as her overreacting. But, wouldn't you be insecure about something if you were bullied about it your whole life? Later after the gun is pulled on Reggie Coco gives this speech about why she does things the way she does, basically the same reason Troy's father does. She's the first and only person to actually acknowledge Reggie in the room and ask how he's feeling only to be quickly ignored as soon as Sam follows her lead and ask Reggie how he's feeling. She's ignored and just leaves.
Then there's Joelle. While Sam is out flaunting her new relationship with Gabe and his ally status, Reggie is feeling down. He thought the only time he would have with Sam was when the black students got together to hate watch, which is a real thing. Then Sam started bringing Gabe. Joelle is the one that took him out to get his mind off of Sam and being woke all the time. She's the first one who attempts to comfort him, and gets ignored, because of Super Sam.
There's also this thing where they try to make Lionel a nerd and it's just weird. Why did they give him a limp and a hunchback? That is not a nerd tendency, at least not in black nerds. Other characters that were weird. Silvio is a borderline racist until the end when he's suddenly in love with Lionel. There's the this whole thing about black love but the only black couple is Troy and Coco, but it's a secret. Interracial relationships are no big deal, just don't go talking about black love and the importance, then do the opposite while the only black couple hides their shame in the boat house. Have you ever seen I'm Gonna Git You Sucka? There's a character all about black power and his "African Goddesses," but when they go see his family he's married to white woman and is the step father of her three children. That's this show personified.
I wouldn't spend so much time talking about how the show isn't woke, if they didn't. Constant references to current events. There's a moment when Reggie creates and app where people rate who the most woke people on campus are. In depth discussion about safe spaces and so on. But, then they turn around and do the exact opposite. They say "black love is important," then make the only black couple hide in the dark. They say "it's important to be understanding of people's feelings," then Coco tells people how she feels and they ignore her because she wouldn't know anything about gun violence since she grew up on the south side of Chicago. The show just seems to have a "do as I say not as I do" theme to it.
I'm not saying it's a bad show, because it's not. I'm just saying the show isn't as good as the show thinks it is. There's plenty of enjoyable moments and most of the characters are likable enough. The story is great for a followup with the racial tensions of their small campus. The show just keeps patting itself on the back in places that it shouldn't. It's a great show, and I got enjoyment out of each episode. Just don't go in expecting a woke-a-thon.
You can hear Darrell on the CP Time and Powerbomb Jutsu podcasts. He also plays classic arcade games on The Cabinet. You can also check out his playthrough of Sleeping Dogs or Skyrim
Dear White People (TV Series): Identity Crisis Reviewed by Blerds Online on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 Rating: