Season 2 of Dear White People shows immense growth from the first season but still has this vibe that it is the type of show that just preaches to the choir.
|Troy||Brandon P Bell|
|Joelle||Ashley Blaine Featherson|
|Officer Ames||Scott Michael Morgan|
|Dean Fairbanks||Obba Babatundé|
|Gabe||John Patrick Amedori|
It’s fall semester on the Winchester campus and we’re within three weeks of where the last season fell off. So there isn’t much catch up. However, things certainly aren’t same ole, same ole. Thanks to the Davis dorm experiencing a fire, now A-P has been integrated and that has made it so Sam and her people aren’t so isolated. But, being that this is Winchester, that doesn’t mean some real cultural exchange, just more issues.
Issues which make life hard on Sam as an alt-right movement on campus becomes more than people arguing with her but making things highly personal. But she isn’t the only one going through something. Troy, after being the master code-switcher, translator between demographics, kind of bottoms out. He decides, after avoiding suspension or expulsion, to focus on drugs and sex with white girls to take up his time. Thus opening up a few power positions, like head of CORE, which Coco quickly takes.
But, don’t think things are all gravy for Coco. Never mind having to room with Kelsey, there is also another issue which could derail everything. Though, when Coco becomes overwhelmed, the apparently Trini and queer Kelsey becomes the type of friend Coco desperately needs. And speaking of desperate, Lionel really wants to figure out what is going on with him and Silvio, as well as start some kind of new publication. However, there comes a point when he realizes, perhaps when Silvio outright tells him, they are at just different points in life.
So, Lionel has to do things on his own and this leads to him meeting Wesley. A young guy, as nerdy as Lionel in a way, who seems like a good match. Oh, and speaking of “seems like a good match” Joelle gets her own episode and it seems she may have found a man. No more pining over Reggie, right? Right? Because, on top of him still being awkward around Sam, there is him still dealing with having a gun pointed at him. Which, with his friendship with Troy, leads him to see if how Troy self-medicates helps at all. Guess what: It doesn’t.
However, Dean Fairbanks ends up saying just what needs to be heard and that helps immensely. But, one thing the dean doesn’t do is solve how to handle the animosity between the white and Black students. Much less reveal who set the fire to the Davis dorm. Not to forget, despite him seemingly being in one of the secret societies mentioned in the season, revealing unto those who look into it what part they may continue to play in Winchester.
But, with this being a prestigious college, naturally, the students figure out a way to make it. One way or another.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- What are other professors and faculty like at Winchester?
The Minor Characters of Season 1 Got A Major Boost
Whether it is Joelle who got a full episode to herself or Kelsey and Brooke who evolved while attached to Coco and Lionel’s, respectively, Dear White People: Volume II expanded the Black experience. On top of that, it made the last two mentioned, Kelsey and Brooke, less caricatures or comic relief, and into people. Kelsey may be bubbly, silly, and a bit of a valley girl, but she is also this queer Trini girl. Someone who didn’t grow up with people like her being visible and while she doesn’t dig into her home life much, for those familiar with how conservative some Black cultures are, imagine being queer in those spaces? Much less a queer woman who doesn’t fit some stereotype?
This is alongside Kelsey who, while at times seemed like the female version of Lionel, got greatly expanded to be seen as more than that. For while they do share this sort of growing up ostracized and not relating to many, Kelsey also pushes how used to being the only one she is and how comfortable she was in that mindset. Sort of like a Coco but instead of being an ice queen she is just aggressive and also quite dirty. Really pushing you to hope these two, since we’re still doubling up on Sam and Lionel, get to take one, or both, of those slots next season.
All Hail Queen Coco
Generally speaking, the women of the show make the show. But Coco, be it with one-liners, looks, or her storyline dealing with having an abortion, gives you full range. She can be this comical foil to someone, a love interest, as well as go through something which makes you feel for her. For with, sadly, only one episode to really get to shine, damn if Robertson doesn’t make sure, even if she doesn’t get to be more than presenting jokes the rest of the season, you will take note of her. You will question why, checking IMDB, you do not see another film or show lined up.
Heck, and just to push how much the show knows she is talented, take note her character is the only one relatively facing us and not turned mostly, if not completely, to the side.
Troy & Reggie
The mental health of Black men, even those with a certain amount of privilege, like Troy and Reggie, perhaps isn’t driven enough. Especially in the form of dealing with trauma – outside of the scope of slavery and living to either find a means to cope or recover. With Reggie, having a gun pulled out on him, knowing, despite his college education, him knowing to code switch and all that, he will always be seen as a threat, is devastating. Much less, there being really no punishment for effecting someone to the point of PTSD.
For, while someone could, unfortunately, argue Officer Ames was doing his job, as most cops are, there is something about having a weapon made to kill pointed at you. Knowing, no matter where they aim it is going to hurt like hell and depending if they aim at just the right point it will kill you, how can you get over that? Which is something explored in Reggie’s story as well as being Black in a predominately white space and finding some sort of outlet. Not always in the form of the BSU and venting to one another, but a place you can find peace.
Especially since, switching to Troy, you have to live up to all these expectations if you want to be seen as one of the good ones. On top of finding a way to be accepted by the majority in a white-collar environment, you have to also be able to maintain your cookout membership. Not to forget, provide some sort of access to those at the cookout into the spaces they are largely excluded from. Which Troy, after a certain point, couldn’t do any more for he began to realize, in trying to be accepted by all sides, he never figured out a way to accept who he truly is or even know who that is. Another large stressor that doesn’t get addressed and instead leads to, as we saw with Troy, either smoking the pain away, relieving stress through using random bodies, drugs, or taking one too many FukItAll pills.
Logan Browning as Sam
In many ways, when you look at Logan Browning, you may get the vibe she is, as Zendaya said recently, an acceptable form of Black. She is light skinned, light eyed, bi-racial and looks as good with straightened hair with it curly or in a fro. And, let’s be real, for a lot of actresses, regardless of skin or hair texture, just being cute and not an ass, that could mean longevity.
However, in this season Browning showed that she is an actress. Not a model turned actress, or an actress who would probably be better off transitioning into modeling, but someone who could make you feel. Someone who can be as much of a punching bag as the fighter you want to see get that KO punch.
Prime example being Gabe’s episode where her character Sam takes on all the criticism of social justice warriors and, in turn, addresses the white allies of various forms. In this battle of wits and words, she shows the strength of a brick wall protecting a child. Someone who may not get hit by the rocks being thrown but still hears the sound of someone trying to break the only thing protecting them. And despite her noted “primal screams”, they continue.
Then, on the other side, she gets to address what it means to have a voice. Not even on the level of those who seemingly raised their profile advocating for empathy and compassion as a career – A whole other subject – but also just everyday people who want peace. Who don’t want someone to, just because they want some semblance of equality beyond what’s written on paper, not being attacked for the idea. Not having it where they receive death threats, being told to kill themselves, and a barrage of harassment for calling out an unjust system.
And from there I could mention her complicated feelings being bi-racial and handling her father’s death to Rikki which, honestly was kind of a mind f—. At least, in terms of realizing how coordinated a lot of these visible disagreements we see are and what could be going on behind the scenes, orchestrated for both side’s benefit. But, I’ll just end this topic with this: You have to love and appreciate how, even with Sam taking more of a back seat this season, Browning proved she doesn’t have to be a star in everyone’s story to present a strong presence and make you react. She is just that damn good.
Have You Met a Hotep?
While addressing Sam and the more aggressive, to the point of hurting the potential of reconciliation, social justice warriors gets addressed, there are also hoteps. In this internal struggle, those who are “woke” but alternative, with conspiracy theories and such, also get put on blast. However, there isn’t a two-sides to the issue narrative driven here. Plainly, hoteps get rebuked for their homophobia, comments like Halfrican-American, and the type of nonsense which is more dividing than anything.
For, in comparison, we have Sam and Coco who may not agree on things, but even with some shade between them, things aren’t said that can’t lead to reconciliation. In terms of Trevor? Between using f** without a wince and how he speaks to Sam and his general outlook, there is no agreeing to disagree. The middle ground just doesn’t exist.
The History of Winchester
Though the whole secret society plot was kind of meh to me, you had to appreciate how the show decided to give a brief history of Winchester, each episode, to present a cause and effect. Because of the racism or nature of this person, that happened. The work of multiple generations of Black alumni allowed for this and so on and so forth.
Male Relationships – Platonic & Romantic
Whether we are talking about the friendship, if not brotherhood between Troy, Reggie, and Lionel, Dean Fairbanks role as Troy’s dad, or a surrogate paternal figure to Reggie, or Lionel’s relationship to Wesley, the love and admiration between men was sweet. Starting with Lionel, you cannot deny seeing his conversations with Troy, like Troy was his big brother, didn’t make you go “Aw” or something similar. For whether it was talking about getting some ass or just feeling a bit stressed out, they were there for each other in a way I don’t think Lionel was used to. Especially from someone who looked like Troy.
But then there was also Lionel’s relationship with Wesley. Though we get to see a lot of queer men in the show, including Todrick Hall and Kid Fury, as well as queer culture, what we mostly get is the unfortunate side. The one which is deeply into hookup culture and seemingly doesn’t push much for monogamy. Yet, for a short time, we saw these two nerdy guys in love. They would make geeky references to video games, text like crazy, we saw them have awkward sex, and also intimate moments which weren’t purely sexual. Which is important.
Just as much as Troy and Dean Fairbanks being there for their ethnic and cultural brothers. Take Reggie and Dean Fairbanks’ conversation in Reggie’s episode. I wanna say most people of color in life meet one older person of the same background who, family or not, tries to provide some real talk guidance into going beyond surviving but thriving. The dean gave that to Reggie and provided him the solution sex and hanging out with his friends, or talking to a therapist, couldn’t. And yeah, it didn’t solve things, but those worn tools Reggie didn’t seem to know existed before the dean presented them.
And just seeing conversations like that, the sense of comradery, made it so, like the sisterhood we saw Coco get, or Sam, when in need, there was a serious idea presented that, despite our differences, ultimately we have to have each other’s backs.
No Such Thing As A Good White Woman
You know how Gabe is, sort of, one of the good ones, and Kurt is depending on which day it is? Well, white women don’t have that in this show at all. In fact, outside of Muffy, most don’t have names. They are Sam’s cousin at the dining table, the one girl part of Dear Right People, random white girls talking mess, or the ones who Troy and Reggie use to get over their trauma.
Which was sort of weird to me since this season addresses how complicated it is when you are not a heterosexual white male quite a bit. When it comes to Silvio, his representation of not being a left-leaning person, despite being Latinx and gay was, frankly underutilized but still noted. Then, speaking of the larger homosexual community, we were presented the complications of being oppressed yet still in many ways an oppressor.
Yet, with the white women on the show, they don’t get any real sort of complication. All they have is this weird jungle fever fetish which makes it seem Reggie and Troy’s suffering makes their nipples hard. Thus leaving them either co-signers to white men are saying or sex objects.
The AltIvyW Situation Didn’t Really Lead To A Satisfying Conclusion
Picking up on that Silvio comment, considering how far AltIvyW went and what they inspired, the fact we don’t see anything happen to him, but minor embarrassment, was infuriating. Granted, to a certain degree, this show tries to keep things rooted. Yet, considering what this man said and who they inspired to act wild, you are left with a rage that never gets handled.
On The Fence
Joelle Kind of Stepped Out of Sam’s Shadow, But Not In A Big Way
Did Joelle get to be developed? Yes, but kind of in a shallow way. We got a few facts about her parents, heard a lot of, “She is also:” sentences in regards to she is also smart, beautiful, talented, and worthy to be loved, but it seemed like she barely got to step out of Sam’s shadow. She had a boyfriend for a hot minute, but still largely was wanting Reggie as she noted not wanting Sam’s sloppy seconds, talking about how she usually gets tossed aside when people see Sam and, largely, even if Joelle was the focus, Sam was lingering in the background.
Which you kind of have to expect. After all, Sam is her best friend, roommate, and Joelle joins Dear White People as a co-host. However, taking note we see Joelle in action in regards to her major, it makes you wish that life, or even helping Gabe and being shown as someone with valued insight, was pushed more. Not just in her episode, but in general.
But, at the same time, I guess she is still on this journey to becoming, once more, the lead of her own story.
Overall: Positive (Watch This)
Volume II of Dear White People is the sophomore effort perfect for the days and times. It addresses not just the Black experience but also is a bit reflective as well. Taking note of perhaps how its characters are seen and not just putting out how they feel. Combine that with, for certain groups, their voices being heard, sometimes with respect and other times for ridicule, and you get a season which may still be preaching to the choir, but has enhanced the soul in their voices to the next octave.
Hence the positive label. Between increased diversity; more characters to look forward to being focused on; beautiful relationships, be it between women, men, or intersecting; on top of performances which make you question why some of these actors aren’t booked to capacity?! Dear White People proves that it goes beyond a gimmick and truly has much to say, share, and show its audience.
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: Too soon to know.
|Dear White People returns and Sam is struggling to get back into her groove, until some anonymous person takes things too far.|
|Three weeks after having a gun pointed at him, Reggie is only getting worse and it seems partying, sex, therapy, and alcohol aren’t doing a damn thing.|
|Lionel comes into focus as does his life after exposing the Hancocks. But, what really matters is a potential love interest you could get behind.|
|Coco makes a new friend and puts tests that friendship with quite the task.|
|FINALLY, Joelle gets her time in the sun and while they lay it on thick what she goes through, as a dark-skinned Black woman, it’s to compensate for the topic being generally avoided.|
|The person behind AltIvyW is revealed, and Brooke gets added to the list of people who need their own episode.|
|Stripped of the qualities he took upon for status, Troy is left trying to find who he is in spite, and because, of his community and upbringing.|
|Gabe and Sam have a real conversation. One that fully addresses Sam, narcissism and all, as well as Gabe and how white allies, or those who attempt to be, will forever be dealing with the learning process.|
|Sam heads to her dad’s funeral, with Joelle and surprisingly Coco, and comes to terms with, not just her guilt, but also a renewed love for her father.|
|We’re left on a cliffhanger. One which doesn’t reveal who burned Davis house but does lead to a major development in the secret societies plot.|