3 Reasons 'Dear White People' Needs A Second Season
By Tutku Barbaros
Recent political events have got me squeezing coffees in at 4, placard painting at 5 and marching at 6. I’ve signed more online petitions than I ever presumed possible, I freak out if I miss a news story, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got Twitter-induced repetitive strain injury. So what do I do to unwind? Ordinarily I’d go home, whack Netflix on and look for something to take my mind off it all. But is that even possible now? Is the process of ‘taking my mind off it’ a privilege I’m willing to accept? Thankfully Netflix has provided a solution to that problem by giving me Dear White People, the story of a group of black students at a fictitious American university, adapted into a series from a 2014 feature film of the same name. It’s woke, it’s full of romantic drama, and it makes me laugh. It has to come back for second series, and here’s why:
1. The Black Lives Matter movement is foregrounded
One question remains at the forefront of every single moment in this series: what does it mean to be black in America? Each character's answer is different, ranging from outright exclamations of black boy joy to deep-seated self-loathing. No matter the route of each separate narrative, a vivid collective awareness of inequality pervades. By bringing police brutality off the streets and into the campus setting DWP highlights that no space is truly safe and asks vital questions about the relationship between micro-aggressions, institutional racism, and violence. It’s not all heavy, in fact it's really funny, but moments to laugh through are balanced by moments to just make it through. A few scenes had me desperate to climb through the screen and hold certain characters tight, at least until they reminded me that they’ve got lectures to go to.
2. You’ll find millennials you actually like
The lifeblood of this series is writer Justin Simien’s relentlessly well-written protagonists. Every character is hella relatable: they’re not perfect but they’re trying, and although each is acutely angry at the world they’ve inherited, they nonetheless keep striving for the society they want to see. They’re three-dimensional, copping the free food at activist events, jolting themselves off course by sleeping with the wrong person, and embarking on love triangles which throw their entire belief systems into question. They’re multifaceted, meat-eating, and adorned in truly excellent garms. This uncliched portrayal of young minds gives me life.
3. It is beautiful
The soundtrack is gorgeous. From Childish Gambino to Wild Beasts, each song adds depth to the story. The visuals are pristine: the campus architecture provides a glowing backdrop to narrative tension which exposes the high-brow facades as just that – facades. The costumes are on point too, particularly in the case of Troy, who is literally never dressed (thank youuuuu directors), and every t-shirt is aptly sloganned. Add to that the camerawork, ranging from shaky, panic-inducing party scenes to straight-to-camera monologues. Every one-liner is razor sharp, tragi-comic and perfectly timed, and every expression thoughtfully performed. Nothing feels lazy or incidental.
In short, Dear White People is a work of art. Watch it.
Follow Tutku on Twitter at @tutkubarbaros