There were few shows in 2017 that were as solidly comedic or relevant as “Dear White People” last year. The adaptation of the popular film seemed to come along at just the right time. Yet simultaneously, it almost felt ill-timed. With a late Emmy qualification (the first season dropped on April 28th) the season felt like it didn’t quite have time to deal with Trump in a meaningful way. However, in the year since the first season premiere, events like Charlottesville have brought the conversations the first season was having into the light. With moments like these feeling troubling frequent, “Dear White People” comes back on fire. In Volume 2, the show steps into the limelight as one of the best shows on television today.
Volume 2 picks up mere days after the events of the first season. Samantha (Logan Browning) has become the subject of hate from the alt-right. Reggie (Marque Richardson) continues to struggle with PTSD in the aftermath of getting a gun pulled on him. Lionel (DeRon Horton) is exploring his sexuality and continuing his journey as a journalist. Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson) tries to keep her friends focused on the important things while holding a flame of her own. Troy (Brandon P. Bell) has quit the presidency, and Coco (Antoinette Robertson) is still feeling out her post-protest world. Finally, Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) has begun to self-reflect on racism in America.
There are some episodes that are really incredible moments for the series. The show already had very strong writing in the first season. Showrunner Justin Simien has continued to get the most out of the concept, evolving his original film into something much larger and exciting. This season, the show continues to play with structure, yielding some interesting results. Simien’s team allows complicated arguments to be had, all the while not letting an obvious right answer emerge. After all, these questions are difficult to answer. There may not actually be a right answer to reveal. Finally, the ways in which the world has been expanded and framed is exciting to watch. The halls of Armstrong-Parker and Winchester Campus feel real, and Simien’s team have found an authenticity in their satire that sings with truth.
The craftwork on the show takes a big step forward this time around. The editing has always been a huge positive for the show, juggling many storylines as they overlap. The cinematography remains strong and the use of blues, reds, and purples makes the visuals stand out. Simien and Cinematographer Topher Osborn do an excellent job making the season look as good the writing. The fluidity of costume design, mixing styles and periods, further showcases the series’ incredible work. Finally, music supervisor Morgan Rhodes brings her A-game to the season. The season features plenty of music drops that are both comical, yet give characters power. It’s a solid soundtrack and might be the best of TV in 2018.
Last but not least, the show continues to be driven by incredible performances. Perhaps the best two performances are coming from Browning and Richardson. Browning is more internal this time around, creating more dramatic moments in the process. Richardson has the most emotional baggage coming in, and the small mannerisms he adds makes Reggie a more intricate character. Each gives awards-worthy performances and should find their way into contention.
When you do as much well as “Dear White People” does in a sophomore season, a show can take a leap. It’s quite exciting to a series really come together, and Volume 2 has the confidence to make that leap. With strong performances and writing anchoring the series again, the rest of the show caught up. “Dear White People” should get the full push from Netflix this spring, and hopefully Emmy voters realize this show’s greatness.