by Rebecca Farley | via Refinery29
This episode, written by the playwright Jack Moore, is a tour de force. Last season gave us the Barry Jenkins-directed episode. This season gives us a short play. (The episode is directed Justin Simien, the show’s creator.) And in only 31 minutes! Gabe and Sam finally resolve their issues slowly and painfull over the course of those minutes. In real time, the show’s central character combats the one person she’s yet to confront this season. The conversation is for Gabe’s documentary, which we find out here is a project for his “documentary in the age of YouTube” series.
A lot of the characters in Dear White People use media as out outlet for their trauma. For Lionel, it’s journalism. For Sam, it’s her radio show. For Troy, it’s comedy. For Gabe, it’s this documentary, which is starting to resemble the show itself. Each episode of this show is dedicated to a different character’s interiority. Gabe is largely doing the same device, only clunkier. Having him train the lens on Sam for an episode about Gabe is a brilliant choice, as it puts both characters in harsh relief. Not to mention, Sam turns on her recorder for posterity, and they film in the Dear White People radio booth. This is Dear White People meets Am I Racist?, the Avengers: Infinity War of DWP’s political media.
The actual conversation itself is clunky, which DWP can be at times, especially when it’s belaboring a point. Here, it’s grappling with Sam’s flickering likability. Gabe suggests shes “inflaming” the students of Winchester with her rhetoric. She fires back that the ruling class always critiques the means of protest of the oppressed. The debate is familiar — it’s not unlike the conversation surrounding Sally Kohn and the writer Aminatou Sow last month. This is about respectability politics. It’s also about where respectability politics bleed into the personal sphere. Sam and Gabe’s debate — 31 engaging minutes, I tell you — vacillates from the political to the private slowly, at first, as they each pause their devices to confess things. . .
Click HERE for the rest of the recap of “Gabe.”