Society Through A Looking Glass: A Dear White People Review

This review might contain spoilers

Dear White People is a Netflix series about a "post racial" society that maintains racists traits, explicit in the lives of black teenagers in the University of Winchester, in the United States. The show addresses important themes connected to an aggressive everyday life that the students face, such as police brutality, institutionalized racism and the conflicts inside the very black resistance movement. In that way, the latent differences between these communities that live together are demonstrated: how to deal with the white majority that goes to the university, the dorms that don't accept black students and a campus-running magazines with a segregatory content. The main character, Sam White (Logan Browning), as a response to all of this, creates a radio program called Dear White People.

The initial discussion that entails throughout the show is the Blackface Party, promoted by a racist campus magazine, justified by the ignorance that proposing a party in which costumes are characters of the black culture, most white students don't see it as an aggression, but as a misunderstood joke. Because of attacks like these, the black resistance groups urge to act, but they are also divided in many fronts with different ideals. The discussions of the many facets of racism and contrasting ideologies inside the political movements are the great hits of the show, that debates them with strong irony and sharp humor.

In counterpoint, what harms Dear White People is its indecision when it comes to defining its tone. The show uses visual resources just like the homonym film, creating a comical setting that matches with its proposal and dialogue. But there are moments, especially near the ending, that the show tries to get an unproportional dramatization, and therefore making the Netflix series look confused with its own proposition. There are specific moments that must be dealt with proper emotional weight, such as the police violence scene with Reggie (Marque Richardson), that has a very organic shift of tone - and that's not accidental, after all the episode V was directed by the excellent Berry Jenkins (Moonlight). However, the other episodes lack a steady hand to conduct these highs and lows of seriousness.

Nevertheless, it deserves applauses for it’s incredibly well developed storyline and structured reviews, as about the television, which forces a trivialization of the black woman’s role, taking as an example a parody of Scandal that plays in the series' universe. The submission of this kind of character is tested by the interracial relationship of Sam and Gabe (John Patrick Amedori), a white man. Chapter VII, that wears his skin about the show’s facts, demonstrates how he feels segregated and oppressed near his girlfriend’s friends, but did not manifest his insatisfaction to not hurt his partner, while she is welcomed among his friends. The show, therefore, has a brave approach showing that even well intentioned white people may also be, at certain levels, racist.

It's  important as well to talk about the genius idea of several views being explored by episodes based on different characters and how it enriches the story (creating, of course, an expectation to the following chapter). Troy (Brandon Bell), the college principal’s son that sees himself forced to handle the tension between the oppressor and the oppressed without taking a stand; Lionel (DeRon Horton), a journalist-to-be, that feels extremely displaced by been gay and black; Samantha, a mixed race black cause activist, willing to put her life aside in favor of the movement; Gabriel, a young film-maker, in love with Godard and his girlfriend Sam, prepared to carry the world upon his shoulders for her.

However, with all of it’s pros, the series repercussion has been quite low, not reaching the countless posts on facebook as 13 Reasons Why, another Netflix production. Although very consumed, it suffers little repercussion. The same thing happens to others Netflix’s movies and series, as The Get Down and Luke Cage, both with black protagonists. It might be one of the lack of promotion this platform offers this kind of production, even though the producer is more progressive about minorities’ representation.