So, if you haven’t heard Justin Simien’s 2014 film Dear White People has been turned into a Netflix series and being the addict that I am I watched all ten chapters in one night. I’m going to keep this brief because spoilers aren’t fun but here’s my honest thought on the show!
I think the show uses point of view excellently. Each chapter is essentially told from one perspective almost, so when watching an episode that highlights Sam it’s easy to hate her former-roommate Coco but once you get to Coco’s episode it sheds her character in a different light, imitating real life. I think that’s part of what makes the series work, you get to see the person as they see themselves and how others see them, giving you a bigger picture of the traits of the character’s involved. Speaking of characters, Lionel is perfect and if you disagree then you’re wrong.
Another thing I love about this show is that it doesn’t attempt to center whiteness. Yes, Sam’s white boyfriend has an episode and there are white people in the series but to me they don’t play any white savior role (Gabe “messes up” even though he tries to be this super liberal ally) & it’s almost as if the white characters mimic how characters on color are often treated on television. As a token sidekick & device when needed and almost nonexistent for the rest of the time.
The series’ hidden gem, however, are its parodies on Scandal (Defamation) & Iyanla: Fix My Life (Dereca: Set Me Straight). I actually had to pause the show during the Defamation seen because I honestly audibly laughed at how real it was, even the viewer commentary was spot on. Similarly, the Dereca parody was spot on as well. I think that the show’s ability to poke fun at the comedy of our own culture is a great one & is definitely a great source of laughter for me.
As someone who wasn’t a huge fan of the original movie, I still wanted to give the series adaptation a try and it is definitely worth a try. I think the characters get more time for development in the series format and I was definitely thoroughly entertained. It may start slow for some people, but it definitely finds its rhythm. Because I am also a fan of The Get Down, I’m glad that Netflix is giving black talent a chance to thrive. Dear White People does have flaws, but what series doesn’t.