When the movie version of Dear White People was released in 2014, I wasn’t running to the theater. I recall seeing the trailer for the film and thinking the cinematography looked cool (very reminiscent of Spike Lee’s classic, School Daze), but I wasn’t in the mood for satire with an on-the-nose heavy message. Never been my thing.
I prefer—and believe it’s more effective—when a message is subtle and hidden. Just my taste. On top of that, I was in school in the most redneck, boondock city in Texas, and the film was nowhere to be found in its four screen cinema.
Surprisingly, by some miracle, the movie popped into town for a limited two-day engagement. I took Dear White People finding its way to the predominantly white area as a sign, and decided to check it out and give it a fair chance.
Fast forward to 2017 and I cannot remember, for the life of me, what that movie was about (I had to take a trip to Wikipedia to refresh my memory). What I do remember though is the release date announcement trailer, for the TV show, that dropped on YouTube (appropriately, in February), and the OVERWHELMING negative responses to it. I felt the reactions were uncalled for, uninformed, and extra (and, to keep it real, a little racist as well), but still, just like the movie, I wasn’t interested.
But, I decided to give it a chance and, oh. my. gawd… The TV show is a complete treat!
The idea of Dear White People, the TV show, isn’t too far removed from the movie (thank you for the refresher Wiki). A matter of fact, the pilot is basically the movie, but upgraded. Samantha White (this go-round played by Logan Browning) is a college activist that hosts a radio show called “Dear White People”, where she basically drags white people and their unconscious racist and entitled behavior. Sam is woke, all about being black and loving it and all that stuff. But then, a secret of hers is revealed that truly changes everything within the next 10 minutes that follows.
Dear White People is so in touch with today’s time. The way the characters talked was the most authentic depiction of black 20-somethings I’ve seen in forever. It’s also really f**cking funny and, at times, super edgy. (There’s a Bill Cosby joke that I felt in my heart I shouldn’t have laughed at, but truly couldn’t help it.)
And that’s the strength of the show—its humor. Every scene had me literally laughing out loud and, somehow, perfectly added to the show’s core message. The writing (by Justin Simien, who also wrote and directed the film version) is so sharp, smart and filled with winks to the audience. For example, one scene parodies a popular TV show and was so ridiculous, yet familiar, that I screamed because a laugh simply could not suffice.
Dear White People is streaming on Netflix starting April 28th. With so much already in your watchlist, taking the risk of possibly wasting another five hours of your life on more never-ending TV may seem like a commitment you may be weary to make. But trust me and take the leap. Dear White People’s message may feel a little heavy to some, but whether you’re black, white, or any color, the gut-busting relatable laughs make the ride super smooth, and a ton of fun!
Random note: The show is co-executive produced by Yvette Lee Bowser who owns Sister Lee Productions. The production company produced Living Single, Half & Half, and For Your Love. It felt so good to see and hear her instantly recognizable production company logo at the end of the credits. Took me ALL the way back. Ugh. Nostalgia.
Dear White People (TV series – 2017)
Creator Justin Simien
Stars Logan Browning, Marque Richardson, Brandon P Bell, Ashley Blaine Featherson