The third volume of Dear White People sees Sam (Logan Brown) returning to campus disillusioned after her meeting with Rikki Carter. And she’s not the only one. Lionel (DeRon Horton) is writing fiction under a pen name and exploring the LGBTQ scene on campus with D’Unte (Griffin Matthews), Troy (Brandon P. Bell) is immersed in Pastiche and Reggie (Marque Richardson) is reforming his life around his new mentor. As the group try to come to terms with their evolving identities and relationships with each other, things are as complex as ever.
As always Dear White People‘s beating heart is its critical examination of race, privilege and identity politics primarily from the perspective of its young, Black characters. This season adds a core theme of things not always being how they appear on the surface and the challenge of changing your mind in the face of evidence. There’s a further theme about working the system to benefit yourself versus perfect ethics that I thought was nicely done and one that reflects everyday life well.
The storyline around Reggie’s mentor (Blair Underwood) having sexually assaulted students cuts to the core of this, showing the additional challenges that rape culture and the patriarchy bring to women of all races but particularly Black women.
I thought the evolution of Sam’s character and her challenges around presenting her film ideas gave her a layer of vulnerability that we’d not seen as much of. I also enjoyed seeing Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson) challenge her and come out from under shadow.
And it’s still really funny, my favourite being the “Handmaid’s Tale” parody.
All of that said, it wasn’t my favourite season. With the narrator being revealed in the second season, I missed his presence. It felt like as a whole the season lacked impetus and was less punchy that earlier seasons. It is still well worth a watch though if you enjoy the characters and the examination of race and identity.