I feel like I should preface my review by saying that I was not blown away at all by the movie version of Dear White People. To the point that I’m quite surprised it was adapted into a series. If only because I found it to be like a watered down version of all the social justice warrior posts one could find on Tumblr or twitter. Yet, with its revival, and on Netflix of all places, there was a desire to see what they could do with the premise in an expanded form.
Sam (Logan Browning) is a prominent voice when it comes to Black culture and issues at Winchester University. With her radio segment “Dear White People,” she often is the voice of the marginalized groups and they love her for it. However, with the discovery of her dating a white guy, named Gabe (John Patrick Amedori), there is a hit to her credibility. Though not something hard enough to take her out of the conversation when it comes to the school’s Black Face party. Something which Sam set up members of the school to participate in so when she calls out the racism of the school, there is no crying wolf for she’ll have videos and photographs as proof.
We can go slow. I just want to go somewhere.
Logan Browning’s Version of Sam
Perhaps one of the problems of remakes, especially with how quick they come nowadays, is that there is still a fairly recent memory of the original. With that, even if you can retain most of the cast, those who do get replaced are always the most scrutinized. Yet, Browning has nothing to worry about when it comes to replacing Tessa Thompson. For while similar in many ways, it seems Browning, or perhaps writer/ director Justin Simien, has presented a different take on Sam.
What I mean by this is, Sam’s pseudo-Black militant style is met with a vulnerability of sorts that we see through Gabe. Alongside this comes an explored questioning of how she, of all people, fell for a white man. Granted, one who is woke, in his own way, but still a bit stumbling as he goes from interacting with Black people theory to practicum.
The Show Seems Less Focused On Being Comical and More On Being Real
Laughing to keep from crying is the way a lot of Black stories are told. Through the pain, there is some sort of joke to keep you attentive and not turned off. Yet, this show loses that sort of comedic vibe that movie had and exchanges it with a lot of social commentary. Of which isn’t setup to be like stand up jokes with punch lines but actual conversations you could imagine having. Be it dealing with the Bill Cosby scandal, loving and criticizing Scandal, and the duality which comes from being proudly Black, and loving your culture, yet still liking some blonde-haired pop star’s music from time to time.
Overall: Positive (Watch This)
I feel like, without the exuberant hype the movie got, the TV series you can go into without the same sort of preconceived notions. For no longer does the program seem like stolen highlights of Black Twitter or Black Tumblr but real people having real conversations. Some of which are problematic, to some, and isn’t trying to be everything and more.
For, in many ways, the problem with the movie version of Dear White People was it wanted to be everything for everyone at one time. It wanted to be funny, it wanted to start conversations, it wanted to be diverse and it basically wanted to make up for the lack of films like it and give you enough for the gap until the next one came around. All of that was packed so tightly into one experience that it ended up failing on multiple counts.
However, with this show being 30 minutes each, and there being 10 episodes, you can see the potential, you can have real hope, that Simien learned what could and does work and can apply it here. Thus giving fans of the original more of what they liked, those on the fence a reason to drink the kool aid once more, and for those who hated the original and can’t be turned? Well, this can at least give them more reason to provide free marketing.