Which Dear White People Characters Need Their Own Series?
Listen up white people, this isn't for you.
Justin Simien’s Dear White People, both the film and show, were made to mix satire with serious. The Netflix series has been gaining critical acclaim and criticism for succeeding in such areas.
Don’t count this out as just another black series just yet. There are a few things that make Dear White People stand out aside from the list of talent attached to the project.
Forget Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal pace, where you can hardly keep up with the super expedient dialogue! DWP combines a mix of tones that slows the pace of the show to an enjoyable speed where cultural nuances in language are easy to pick up on…even for non-POC viewers who might not have noticed them otherwise. Basically, this show is safe to watch with your white friends because you won’t have to answer any of the normal “why” questions. DWP lends time during the episode for the characters to handle that for you.
Thoughtful right? I’ll say but the smarts don’t stop there.
This cast hosts some truly intelligent characters. Dare I offer that DWP might have the smartest, most “woke” motley crew on Netflix? Because I just did.
Sam (Logan Browning) and Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson) remind me of Insecure’s Molly (Yvonne Orji) and Issa (Issa Rae) with their whip-lash humor and candid transparency. They’re not afraid to read each other when needed like true best friends. The accountability is beautiful.
Warning though: this is content for secure viewers. Viewers that only mildly want to forget about social injustices while binging Netflix. Shade is shade on this show. They tell it like it is and nothing, I mean nothing, is off limits. Sensitive topics like interracial relationships, code switching, sexuality, academia injustice are added to a list that already includes racial tension thanks to Winchester University’s fraternity black face party scandal. Even deep rooted issues like colorism and its effects are exposed on DWP during one character’s backstory episode. And I’m 100% here for it.
But which characters 100% need their own series based on this 10-episode season?
More than meets the eye sidekick bestie, Joelle and Sam’s former bestie turned sorority pretty girl CoCo (Antoinette Robertson).
No shade to Sam’s intriguing main character narrative but we get enough of her story throughout DWP, whereas Joelle and CoCo’s narratives felt as fleshed as possible for 25 mins but left me craving more.
No spoilers this time but I had questions like “is Joelle’s humor a defense mechanism?” and “how did CoCo’s parents explain colorism, if at all, before she learned firsthand?”
Featherson and Robertson’s performances as these characters have been criticized as cliche and stereotypical but I disagree. I think DWP completely recognizes the tropes these characters fall into. The difference is Joelle & CoCo may start the episode in these restrictive lanes but are then transported across the line by their actions which contradict said cliches. Now that’s smart TV!
So much can be done with either character that they have the power to eclipse Sam’s light-skinned spotlight altogether. I’m hoping we get the chance to witness what else is in store for Joelle & CoCo at Winchester and beyond on season 2 of Dear White People.
Season 1 is available to watch now.