Get ready to dive back into campus life at Winchester University with Dear White People Vol. 2, dropping today on Netflix. This is the second season of the TV show based on the hit indie film of the same name, but y’all should be hip to that by now. We join back up with Sam (Logan Browning), Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherston), and the rest of the crew in the newly-integrated Armstrong Parker (AP) house. It’s two weeks after the events of the Vol. 1 finale and everyone is dealing with the fallout. I’d tell you more, but I’m planning on keeping this review as spoiler-free as I possibly can. But no worries, Dear White People Vol. 2 is pretty easy to binge. If you bout that life, you can knock out the 10 30-minute “Chapters” in no time.
First things first, if you enjoyed the first season of Dear White People you’ll definitely enjoy this one. All the familiar faces are back and doing their damndest to come out on top of some messy situations. Like I said, we’re dealing with the fallout of Troy’s window-smashing, Reggie’s ugly run-in with a trigger-happy campus cop, Lionel’s explosive exposé, and the night of dueling protests.
Tensions at Winchester are clearly high and the series takes on a slightly more somber tone than in its first season. The shift makes it a little harder to binge than Vol. 1, but not enough to make the show feel unfamiliar or turn off fans. The students are dealing with some pretty hefty issues so it’s understandable that things would take a darker turn. It makes flowing through episode after episode feel like rowing an anchored boat so if you’re already in a precarious mental place, proceed with caution.
Overall, Dear White People Vol. 2 is like a Black American Twitter timeline made flesh. Just about every quip, conflict, and new character could have stepped out of the zeroes and ones of viral tweets and onto whichever screen your Netflix inhabits. Sometimes it feels timely; other times it feels just as tiring as the 5 millionth debate on child support, $200 dates, or that fake ass Willie Lynch letter. It’ll be fresh to anyone not on Twitter like that but if you live on the timeline…it may get old fast.
The strongest points of this season, though, are the moments and episodes that flesh out characters who didn’t get as much shine in Vol. 1. Joelle, one of the best best-friends in modern entertainment, finally gets her own episode, though, the dismount leaves a little to be desired. The single best episode of the season deals with Coco and her legendary drive and ambition. It also gives some wonderfully humanizing moments to Kelsey, a character used mainly for laughs until then. It handles an extremely difficult situation in a nuanced way and sticks the ending where other episodes fumble. We also get fun cameos sprinkled throughout the season. I’ll let you decide whether they’re rainbow sprinkles on a sundae or rainbow sprinkles on ramen.
Dear White People Vol. 2 tries to have the hard conversations. National issues transplanted into the microcosm of a college campus may seem like an easier way to hash it out, something the show succeeds at sometimes. Other times the problem is just left at our feet wiggling like a hit roach waiting for us to flip off the lights so it can beat a hasty retreat, wounded but not defeated. It’s a bit of a drag watching a show that loves to monologue about what’s wrong but seldom dreams up actionable solutions. They may be working up to it, but we’ll have to wait until Vol. 3 to see the payoff, I guess.
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