by Rebecca Farley | via Refinery29
Since Dear White People season 1 premiered last year, a lot has happened. Remember Charlottesville? That was only nine months ago. There was also the firing of Rex Tillerson, the reveal that Scott Pruitt pays on $50 a night for his D.C. condo, and the Parkland shooting, which inspired the March for Our Lives two months ago. Not to mention all the absurd news items that have faded from our minds — remember when Trump asked Washington correspondent April D. Ryan if she would set up a meeting with Black lawmakers? Yeah.
Given this weight of information, Dear White People season 2 feels like its jumped months in the future, not just days. Narrative-wise, the show picks up shortly after the rally outside Hancock house that ended season 1. But emotionally, Dear White People has aged. Season 2 delves into the more insidious parts of racial politics, like alt-right Twitter and the ingrained whiteness of university secret societies. There’s more history in season 2, as the narrator (and later, also the characters) unfurls the legends of the fictional Winchester University. A lot of it eerily mirrors things that are happening today, as I write, as the show makes its way to Netflix. If Dear White People season 1 was a commentary, then Dear White People season 2 is a dangerous, curious prediction.
The villains are more dangerous this time. The stakes are higher. Sorbet, a small fluffy puppy, has gone missing. At the same time, the humor is more insistent. The pop culture references are cruelly relevant, and, yes, there are more fake parody television shows. Winchester is, in many ways, a disaster, but it’s also never looked better.
Episode One: Sam
Tis the season of exploring the alt-right. Actually, Dear White People might be the first scripted show to explore the hidden (scary, shitty) depths of the alt-right. At the same time, the residents of Armstrong Parker are dealing with something only slightly less sinister: white students. White students have infiltrated Armstrong-Parker, the residential house for students of color. At the end of season one, Davis house burned right as Troy (Brandon P. Bell) smashed a window in Hancock house. The confluence of these two events suggested arson, but as of now, the leading theory is that a microwave lit the fire that sent white people to AP.
We begin at mealtime during one of Dear White People’s signature tableaus. Sam (Logan Browning) is poking at sugary grits (sugary? okay) while Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson) judges. Grits are, apparently, one of the benefits of white students in AP. Other effects include: yoga in the common space, and an influx of white students watching P. Ninny (Lena Waithe’s cameo) in her reality show.
This season delves right into the aftermath of last season’s protest. It’s hitting Sam harder than it is Troy or Reggie (Marque Richardson), thanks to Twitter, which has its own DWP world branding here. One of the things Dear White People does spectacularly well is create its own lexicon of pop culture and branding to employ throughout the season. (This is why it’s particularly jarring to hear that 13 Reasons Why reference in the first episode. But I digress.) An alt-right account @AltIvyW is hounding Sam for her show Dear White People, calling Sam racist for its premise. The account campaigns for Rikki Carter, an alt-right figure, to come to campus. All of this is less political than it is personal — Sam is troubled. She isn’t recording Dear White People, telling Joelle that another ‘don’t touch my hair’ take would be “hack.” She’s lagging in school work and she’s showing signs of depression.
This doesn’t stop her from, erm, enjoying herself in her new double. This is a thing, I’ve learned, called “prebating,” as Joelle calls it, a preventative form of sexual activity that exists to cure us of dangerous horniness. Sam prebates to defend herself from the good looks of Gabe (John Patrick Amedori), her film TA. Gabe broke up with her at the end of season 1, after she told him she loved him. There are other factors at play — he called the cops on the party; she slept with Reggie — but the biggest factor in their breakup was her obsession, he told her in the finale. . .
Click HERE to read the rest of the recap, “Sam.”