It is difficult to write this review without mentioning that I am a white American, and as such, Dear White People offers a look into a world and set of experiences very different from my own- which is exactly what Dear White People does well.
Dear White People is by no means a show about painting all African Americans as upright, moral individuals who can do no wrong and all white people as evil racists. In fact, Dear White People carefully walks the tightrope of depicting compelling characters (both black and white) as people with personal flaws struggling to navigate the realities of our societies' underlying racial tensions.
Much of Dear White People's narrative strength comes from having each episode devoted to a different character (with the exception of the final episode in which the different narratives converge). Personally, my favorite episodes focused on Lionel who deals with the difficulty of coming to terms with his identity as a gay black man and the way in which his identify effects his work as a journalist. Having different episodes focused on different characters also allows the show to subvert our expectations with regards to particular characters and their particular experience- this is particularly true of the first episode focused on Coco and the one episode focused on Gabe.
Ultimately, Dear White People gives us (people who don't have to deal with racism on a daily basis) a peek behind the current, a chance to begin to understand the complexity of race in the US, as well as, showing us the way in which racism is often born out of ignorance or a refusal to understand the experiences of others.
Outside of the more serious themes of Dear White People, the show also manages to be quite sharp and witty. Giancarlo Esposito, for example, is hilarious as the narrator and the jibe about Tarantino casting Samuel Jackson just so people can call him a n-word for two hours can't help but elicit a chuckle.
I did have some, albeit minor, problems with Dear White People. For one, I thought the plot line regarding Sam and Gabe made use of an overused plot contrivance to manufacture drama(I won't mention exactly what the plot device was, so as not to spoil it). Second, I was mildly annoyed that a show that does such a good job presenting the complexity of race relations largely reduces Feminism to a joke. There are two times when Feminism is brought up, and both times it's used for a laugh. One of these times is particularly lazy since it relies on the 'obnoxious college liberal' stereotype. I would hope that the show can move beyond these types of characterizations in the future.
However, I would ultimately recommend Dear White People if you are interested in witty social commentary that's not too preachy with some really great characters. Just try to keep an open mind.
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