First things first! If you didn’t read my review of Season 1, click here to catch up.
Dear White People is set on the campus of a fictional Ivy League school called Winchester University. Like the 2014 film of the same name, the series follows the lives of several students: Samantha White (Logan Browning), a student activist who hosts an inflammatory campus radio show known as “Dear White People”, Lionel Higgins (DeRon Horton), a talented writer struggling to come out of his shell, Coco Conners (Antoinette Robertson), a competitive go-getter hoping to cement her status as a campus politico, and Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), former “golden boy” whose actions in Season 1 have left him with a somewhat tarnished rep.
My favorite thing about the first season was a combination of the writing, the complex characters, and the epic pop culture references. Thankfully, creator Justin Simien brings back a lot of that same energy, yet manages to make the series just as engaging and entertaining.
Dear White People Volume 2 is a smart show grounded in the real world, that features some of television’s most dynamic writing today. It’s equal parts hilarious and thought-provoking.
Sam made many decisions last season, some smart (exposing racism on campus), and others not so much (i.e. breaking Reggie’s heart). Vol. 2 is all about her dealing with the repercussions of those actions. Her relationship with former friend turned brief flame Reggie (Marque Richardson) is strained and awkward. She and Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) are no longer on speaking terms as a result of his somewhat shady actions at the end of last season. When the two of them are forced to interact, an explosive conversation follows (more on that later).
All of the acting is phenomenal this season, just downright impressive across the board, but I have to shout-out Browning because she absolutely kills it. The character of Sam has always been known for dealing with Winchester’s issues, but this season we see her navigating troubles back home after tragedy strikes her family. The range of emotions that Browning has to portray onscreen is no easy feat, yet she’s up for the challenge. As someone who has watched her onscreen since her days on Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, I was suuuuuper proud. Like talking-to-the-television-as-if-she was-my-friend proud.
In Chapter VIII, the much talked about “bottle episode“, Sam and Gabe have a tense discussion about his film project “Am I Racist?” It’s heart-breaking, eye-opening, and serves as a powerful reminder that people of different races can have tough, uncomfortable conversations and be better for it. Anyone who considers themselves an ally or would-be ally, should definitely check it out.
Since the episode is so self-contained it’s almost like a play, which challenges the actors and director in an exciting way. This is one of the strongest episodes thus far and should have earned the series some type of recognition this Emmy’s season.
Someone else with strong storyline this season is Robertson‘s Coco. She has always been an interesting character because she wants many of the same things Sam does, yet her approach and mindset is drastically different. This season, Coco is put in a situation where she has to deal with an unplanned pregnancy that causes her Capitol Hill dreams to falter. It’s a heart-breaking experience and we see her play out a couple scenarios before ultimately making her decision. I think the storyline helped humanize Coco, while also shining a light on an important issue many women face every day.
Sam and Coco have been frenemies for awhile, but their relationship takes a turn for the better this season. It’s in Sam’s hour of need that Coco shows up and along with Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson), they provide her support and comfort. I’m big on girl power and the importance of sisterhood so it was such a relief to see these three independent women come together. The chemistry the actresses share with one another is a hallmark of Volume 2 and something I hope progresses in further seasons.
Horton is still bringing Lionel to life in a likable, realistic way. I think he is one of the characters I relate to the most because as a twenty-something I find myself on a similar path. We’re both trying to find our own tribe and figure out where we belong in the world. In Vol. 2, Lionel is dealing with his recent firing from the school paper, an unprecedented “situation-ship” with Silvio (DJ Blickenstaff), and then a potential relationship with new character Wesley (Rudy Martinez), a sweet guy who may not be looking for real commitment.
As if all that’s not enough, Lionel is working on a case that may change everything for him at Winchester. He and Sam team up hoping to uncover the mystery behind a secret society known as Order of X. I loved seeing the pairing of Browning and Horton onscreen and I anticipate it will continue as the ending of Chapter X seems to suggest more to come. There’s also a big reveal in the final minutes of the show. As always, I will not spoil it for you, but it was a pleasant surprise!
If you can appreciate a show with sharp wit that challenges your ideals, you may want to make DWP your next Netflix binge. It’s humorous and sure to spark conversation.
Dear White People is created by Justin Simien and executive produced by Yvette Lee Bowser. The series stars Logan Browning, DeRon Horton, Brandon P. Bell, Marque Richardson, Antoinette Robertson, Ashley Blaine Featherson, John Patrick Amedori and Giancarlo Esposito. It was recently renewed for a THIRD season! You can currently watch seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix!
Have you seen the list of this year’s Emmy nominees? Any shows or actors you believe were snubbed? Let me know in the comments down below!