Scene from Dear White People Volume 4. Students in the hallway.

Netflix Teases Dear White People’s Entire Finale Season to be Musical

Both intriguing and perplexing

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Netflix has announced that the fourth and final season of the brilliant series Dear White People will be a musical. Yes, the whole season.

Promised as “both Afro-futuristic and [a] 90-inspired event,” Netflix’s promo proclaims, “sometimes the only way to move forward is to throw it back.” Considering the show likes to peel back layers, I hope DWP Vol.4 will also be looking at nostalgia. For now, however, we get to gaze upon this 47-second teaser trailer.

Perhaps we should not be surprised by the new theme—considering that the show centers on a Black radio host (played by Logan Browning) and its seasons are called volumes (which I JUST noticed)—but the news that Vol. 4 will be a musical season still caught many off guard. A whole theatrical season is a pretty big change for the series.

The trailer so far has been met with mixed reviews. Like every time bigots are reminded this excellent show exists, there are those that don’t understand that “reverse racism” isn’t a thing and renewed calls to boycott. What’s different this time are the scores of Black fans who are upset or who are wondering what’s up with this musical shift.

While many of the tweet reactions are humorous, they are also emblematic of the apparent concern that the show will trivialize oppression and/or leave behind its core audience. I am also a bit anxious to see how this is handled. But despite the stereotype that they are all goofy melodramas, musicals can provide a unique vehicle for exploring nuanced topics, so I’ll be eager to watch how the season plays out.

How are they going to make this work? Not really sure! We are going to have to wait and see. The creative team has the chops to do interesting things with camerawork and audio, as they have shown us in previous seasons. It is also reassuring to see creator Justin Simien still leading the project as writer, producer and co-showrunner. 

DWP is what grown-ish thinks it is (which I admit I still watch through the pain.) If anyone can pull this off tastefully, I think it is the cast and crew of DWP. That is if they can all sing.

As a Black woman who loves theater and musicals, my existence is one of many people who disproves the implication in some of the online reactions that Black people don’t like musicals. We are out here and have been since before 2015, a.k.a. when Hamilton premiered.

Liking musicals is not a “white people thing”—though I would love for the season to address that regressive attitude. The show has broken the fourth wall before.

While I said I love musicals, excluding POSE (which feels more like a musical experience than a straight-up musical), I’ve never made my way to the end of a musical show. This is not for lack of trying—see my attempts at GleeCrazy Ex-Girlfriend, and High School Musical: The Musical The Series.

This is to say that ten episodes of songs may be a bit much, even for me. Before checking they would continue the entire 10 chapter format as a musical, I assumed they meant a musical episode or movie ending. 

All in all, I am still very hopeful and cautiously optimistic. 

DWP Vol. 4 releases on Netflix September 22.

(via Twitter, featured image: Netflix)

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Author
Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.