By James Deshommes
While there are many shows I try and make time for, amongst the barrage of amazing content that’s available to us on a daily basis; Netflix’s Dear White People I had on my radar from the onset and maybe as far as when the casting of the show was announced. Justin Simien created, written, and directed the movie version of Dear White People and would only make sense to wear all hats for the Netflix binge-worthy environment. The movie was not a huge box-office success, but it indeed was a movie that opened up the conversation Justin intended it to have. I enjoyed the movie, but like so many of my peers, we wish there was more of it to devour. It seems like Justin felt the same way citing the reason to revive the movie into a show was that he had so much more stories to tell that an hour and a half movie truly couldn’t accomplish. What made the movie stand out was the astonishing brilliance of Tessa Thompson as Samantha White. Her low key relaxing voice influx with a strong woke attitude helped tell the story of not only racism at an Ivy League institution but also battling her conflicting ideas of who she is and what others of her race would perceive her to be when it all gets lit as her dating a white guy becomes the center of discussion.
Now fast forward a few years later and back at Winchester Ivy League college with ten episodes in hand and you have an entire cast that truly shines throughout this first season.
A couple of returning cast members from the movie reprise their roles, such as Brandon Bell playing Troy Fairbanks the Ivy League scholar who does nothing wrong (Superman-like, trust me that joke lies within the show) and he happens to be the son of the Dean. You also have Marque Richardson coming back as Reggie Green whose quick sarcastic woke lines are as tight as his African inspired college-wear infused with a sick hip-hop element you would see in a Sean Jean fashion show. He faces an all too common injustice in the series and he is also trying to gain the attention of Samantha White. Antoinette Robertson plays Cocco Conners, and her character goes through it all, and her ambitious actions are looked at as questionable, but she grows and transforms in ways you would rarely see with the allotted time given on the silver screen. The tone in a lot of these characters is you can be ok without having to be attached to the labels that others put on you. I’m excited they delved into that and to show that these characters who are either African Americans, mixed, Africans, or white we all go through some serious stuff and a strong college support system is absolutely critical in leaving school ready to face this harsh world with the strongest weapon we have, our minds!
The center of it all is the radio station that Samantha White now played by Logan Browning works for that gives her the artistic freedom to exercise her right to educate her Winchester peers, faculty, and visiting alums from anything to the rising unspeakable blackface parties to campus security’s unnecessary need to carry firearms on hollowed educational grounds. Samantha White is surrounded by a host of young talented peers of which she calls friends and who share similar values. As you will see early in the first episode, not all black people share the same core beliefs, but when all of their collective rights are being stripped away, they come together to build a united front.
The plot of the movie is similar to a tee in the TV series, but now we see how these characters lives develop after the credits roll through the screen. Ms White is conflicted with her relationship with Gabe played by John Patrick Amedori, and this plays out all the way throughout the episodes. The rest of the cast includes her bestie Joelle Brooks who is wonderfully played by Ashley Blaine Featherson and she delivers some of the best lines on the show in my opinion. She can be described as woke and hella funny while slaying with her designer outfits. The school’s newspaper main editor or at least the one who can gain the most interviews is headed by Lionel whose role is being played by DeRon Horton. Lionel like the rest of his fellow peers is dealing with personal issues most of which are centered around his sexuality and rooming with Troy doesn’t help him cope any better.The entire ten episode series is no longer than thirty minutes long if that so it can be watched in
The entire ten episode series is no longer than thirty minutes long if that so it can be watched in its entirety relatively quickly. I would be remiss in not mentioning my all time favorite Giancarlo Esposito narrates the entire series with his genius wit and careful dialogue when perfectly telling the story of each of the main players in Winchester. But just like the movie, there will indeed be conversations sparked from Justin Simien’s TV series and from what I see on Twitter just a few days after it’s release that sure is the case. One defining episode touches with law enforcement and how students directly affected by it try to cope with the aftermath. But there will be many moments that will have you coming back to binge a second or third time and I know that will be the case with me. This show will resonate with you regardless of what race you are and that is at least a start of a long-awaited conversation that must be had.
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