When Season 1 of Dear White People premiered on Netflix last year, it sparked both praise and outrage among different groups. Outrage, in the people who thought Dear White People was a ‘White-Hate’ TV show aimed at silencing the white voice (hardly); and praise in those who could appreciate a show that started honest conversations about White and Black relations in a Post-Trump America. Needless to say, the haters of this show were quickly invalidated when Netflix announced that Dear White People would have a season 2.
A Bit of a Recap
Season 2 picks up right where Season 1 left off. Fictional Ivy League, Winchester College, is embroiled in a conflict that has Black students and white students pitted against each other in a passive-aggressive tit-for-tat. Countless protests have resulted in Armstrong-Parker, the Black student housing, accepting white students (which is precisely what we were trying to avoid throughout Season 1). The integration of Armstrong-Parker comes after the Dean’s son, Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell) shatters his long built family legacy and the glass door of town hall during the final episode of season 1. At the same time, Reggie Green (Marque Richardson) is still reeling from having a cop pull a gun on him at a house party. Meanwhile, Lionel Higgins (DeRon Horton), is trying to understand his place in the Gay community, while at the same time is still grappling with his spontaneous first kiss. Finally, our protagonist, Samantha White (Logan Browning), host of the radio-show Dear White People, is still getting over her traumatic break-up with resident white pretty boy, Gable Mitchell (John Patrick Amedori). From the jump, Season 2 hits harder and faster than the first, and it is pretty unapologetic about it.
Internet Trolls, Conspiracy Theories, and Scooby-Doo like Mystery
Season 2 spends little time to let watchers catch their breath and doesn’t care about pulling political punches. The first episode focuses on Sam and a mysterious internet troll who likens her to an ignorant monkey. Sam spirals into a twitter battle with the online heckler, while at the same time, conservative voices feel emboldened enough to create their counter radio talk-show, Dear Right People.
What follows the first episode is a developing ‘Scooby-Doo like mystery’ surrounding a suspicious dorm fire, secret societies, and strange ‘X’ markings. The gang (our cast of characters) are expected to uncover the secrets of Winchester, and how they connect to the rise of a vocal right-wing student body, all while navigating the issues that comes with integrating Black and white students together.
Beyond the mystery and fictional (yet entertaining) discussion of conspiracy theories, Dear White People Season 2 puts our character through a gambit of serious real-world problems, like abortion, PTSD, police brutality, and the seemingly vast chasm between white and Black people in America. The season culminates in a reveal that will blow watchers away and leaves things wide open for a potential season 3 (just renew it already Netflix). That being said, Season 2 is far from perfect, and if the writers decide to carry on in this direction, they may end up losing what makes this show so relevant.
Dear White People Season 1 was so powerful because of the intellectual and, at times, controversial commentary it offered. Few TV shows and movies have even addressed the idea of what it is like to be Black at an Ivy League or private college. Dear White People Season 1 did a fantastic job at retelling the story that many people of color in prestigious schools around the country experience every day. Subjugation, mistreatment, downright bigotry, the experience of people of color in private institutions is no walk in the park (especially when you take into account all the work these schools pile on).
Dear White People Season 2 on the other hand, takes that narrative and expands on it. While this works for a good part of the season, at some point, you begin to fear that the writers may run out of things to talk about. This fear is actualized towards the end of the season when conspiracy theories and fictional secret societies take the forefront of the plot. While conspiracy theories and fake-news are very much prevalent in American discourse today (looking at you Alex Jones), it reaches a point of fiction that can take away from the very real subjects the show brings up. Who is to say how season 3 will go, but if they continue on the course they’ve set, the hard-hitting conversations the show stirred may be traded off for ‘thrilling’ plot-twists, and ‘gotcha’ storytelling.