Dear White People is Renewed for Season 2, one of the only remaining Black Netflix Shows
By: Steve Hladik
Netflix’s Dear White People, based on the 2014 movie directed by Justin Simien, has been renewed for a season two. Production on the 10 episode second season is expected to begin later on this year. Dear White People debuted on April 28th to much critical acclaim, with critics and audiences praising not only it’s actors and writers, but it’s audacity to tackle head-first some of the most pressing issues faced by people of color in 2017.
In fact, the premiere of Dear White People almost felt like a direct antidote to the volatile political climate at the hands of Trump we found ourselves this year. In the midst of talk about travel bans and racist remarks, coded or not, coming from people in the White House, comes a television show with an almost all African American cast, set in a predominately white university. The students are seen combating racism and struggling to find their voices against an oppressive system. This is a particularly good move for Netflix, not only for renewing one of its most critically acclaimed shows, but on the heels of coming under a bit of fire for cancelling two of their most diverse projects.
On May 24th, Netflix cancelled The Get Down, it’s musical drama created by Baz Luhrmann about the rise of hip-hop and disco music set in 1970’s South Bronx. The Get Down was a celebration of singers, rappers, and musicians of color and featured a deeply diverse set of actors, including Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, and Herizen Guardiola among others, not to mention guest appearances by Lilias White, Daveed Diggs, and Giancarlo Esposito.
Also cancelled by Netflix was sci-fi drama Sense8, which featured a wide range of actors of all kinds of nationalities, sexualities, and religions, not to mention the show itself featured many queer storylines and characters. After both these cancellations, fans were rightfully annoyed by Netflix cancelling two of its most diverse programs, especially while so many other white-actor led shows which were not as critically adored as these two remain on streaming (although Netflix did just order a two-hour Sense8 series finale to give the show a proper send off.) Considering no one actually knows how many people watch these shows considering Netflix doesn’t release their ratings, it’s hard to gauge how many people actually watched these shows, but nonetheless, their loyal albeit niche fan bases were upset at their premature endings.
At least the renewal of Dear White People gives us something to really celebrate. It's one of the very best new shows of the year, daring in its structure and content, challenging its audience, and telling us a story that it not often told. There’s something so refreshing, and sadly, even in 2017, almost radical about watching a show with a predominantly African American cast dealing with African American issues that are reflecting what's going on in the actual news. Look no further than the standout Chapter V, directed by the Academy Award winning director of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins. It deals with the incident of a racist cop on campus who pulls his weapon on Reggie played by Marque Richardson. It’s an extremely difficult and devastating episode to watch, and Jenkins and the writers Chuck Hayward and Jack Moore put us right there in the middle of the incident. We watch how a campus party escalates from good fun to an innocent student staring down the barrel of a cop’s gun, and the result is the kind of stuff we don’t ever see on television, at all. It’s stuff like that that should guarantee Dear White People for many more renewals to come.