“That’s always seemed ridiculous to me, that people would want to be around someone because they are pretty. It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on colour not taste.”
Justin Simien’s Dear White People is a spin-off of his yesteryear award-winning movie that appropriately presents a misanthropic view of the racial injustice in the US-collegiate life. However racism is so colossally ubiquitous that by the time one is through with the series, it feels convincingly relatable to a degree. The show managed to spark a row with the titular theme but it doesn’t fall short of the intended mark.
The mise-de-scene is a predominantly African-American dorm of a campus set in Winchester University, a fictional Ivy League college, where particularly the black students are a minority in the student body. The start takes-off quite smoothly with each episode shedding light on the lives of different students. The first episode unrolls Samantha White’s (Logan Browning) life, who stirs the pot with her call for civil rights, safe spaces, et al., through an activist radio show she runs- Dear White People. Samantha shows a penchant for showering empathy towards the students of colour but is clandestinely seeing a white guy named Gabe (John Patrick Amedori), her secret ink being her chink in armour. Samantha soon gets an opportunity to lead the outcry of an ironic blackface party; she decides to film the entire “racism episode” and leak the unfair practices but things take a sharp veer as word about her linking with Gabe surfaces. Shades matter here, remember?
There are more characters as well who don their second skins so effortlessly and brilliantly that as a whole the team whisks away a gargantuan thumbs up. As the narrative inches forward, the show adds multiple instances of varied unjust practices going around that exposes blandly how narrow-minded the society continues to be. For instance, a police brutality episode with Reggie, a dark-skinned student makes it a heart-shattering episode. What’s more saddening is that we would have loved to dive a lot more into Reggie’s subconscious to give an insight to the whole political activism, its aftermath- psychological and experiential. (Spoiler Alert: Reggie succumbs to the police brutality).
Dear White People thus rips apart every layer and exposes the skeletal, ugly thoughts that stifle the society. The recurring atrocities just hammers into the head and so does the espirit de corps, the pride, suspense and the underlying message makes it a worthy watch. Apart from that you will also be amused by the quips that slither through the serious moments, like a journalism student who decides to write a think piece of a think piece of a think piece (that’s what actually critics on the interweb revel in) and manage to crack up but that’s on the viewers to decide if it correctly befits the plot or not. To each his own.
Dear White People is a great story in itself that teaches us about the leather-lunged truths- the battle is for real and makes it for a great watch too! The plot keeps one intrigued to what-happens-next and looking for the next element in store. Simien has very cleverly shaped students’ politics and the ongoing fight for radicalism that prevails into a narrative. While the shoot had wound up way before their elections, the American society finds crumbs and pieces of this show in their present socio-political structure. That clearly speaks so much about Simien’s work for stories outlive all generations and never die until we decide for it.
Watch: Dear White People is a Netflix Original series.