Dear White People Vol. 2 Promises to Tackle All the Issues Your Twitter Has Been Blowing up Over
Dear White People is returning next month with its second volume. The Netflix show was based on the 2014 movie by Justin Simien, who returned to the project to give his project the expansion it needed. The movie DWP, while it had a great cast, was not really able to tell the story that needed to be told and thankfully, the show has been a place where that story can grow.
The first season I found to raise some interesting issues with the characters of Lionel and Coco especially. Lionel as a gay black man coming into himself in the intersection of both those identities and also trying to have journalistic honesty in his own work. Colandrea, aka CoCo, was probably my favorite character in the previous season because so rarely do the stories of darker skinned women from the hood trying to make it get told. Everything about Colandrea hit the mark with me: from her desire for excellence to her “boujee-ness”, to the mini hair journey we see her own on was fantastic. The episodes that focused on those characters hit the mark for me.
Reggie’s storyline, which was very much the beginning of the series showing its teeth, was important but got lost when it became about probably the two weakest characters on the show: Sam and her white boyfriend, Gabe.
For those who missed the first season, Reggie is one of the smartest kids at the school and very much a hardcore part of the Black Student Union. He also has a crush on Sam. He goes to a party, gets drunk and starts to relax, take down his walls around the mixed-group of people and has fun. A song starts playing and when the white kids start saying the n-word, he asks them not too. The white kid acts defensively and it escalates into an argument. The campus police are called a gun is drawn on Reggie. He isn’t shot, but the incident traumatizes him.
We find out later that it was Gabe who called the police and it leads to a conflict between Sam and Gabe. Eventually, they reconcile because Sam agrees that Gabe called the police for the right reasons and he didn’t know that things would escalate.
To me, Gabe and Sam were the weak links in the chain when it came to the show’s desire to really tackle race. Sam because she was sometimes so far up her own backside to see how the things she was doing and promoting were hurting the people around her and Gabe for being the white liberal man insert who was constantly being coddled and told: “it’s okay you are a good white person.”
While I deeply enjoyed DWP myself, as did some of my black friends, it often felt like it was so rudimentary when it came to talking about race that it often had nothing important to say that hadn’t already been said. Especially since so much attention was paid to Sam and her boyfriend and her trying to prove that she could date a white guy and also be pro-black…as if that is a new concept.
Instead of focusing on their star-crossed whatever the hell, I hope the second season allows the other women to speak. Especially Joelle, who was sidelined hard throughout the first season.
I’m looking forward to seeing how volume 2 of the series tackles cultural appropriation, sex norms and all the other things it boasts. While grown-ish has been a fun ride, the show has failed, at least for me, at really taking a firm stance politically. It wants to be something for everyone. I am hoping that DWP will allow itself to be a black show that everyone can watch, like Atlanta and Insecure.
Dear White People will be returning to Netflix on May 4, 2018.
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