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Dear White People is now streaming on Netflix (Photo provided via @deawhitepeople on Instagram)

TV Review: Netflix’s ‘Dear White People’ comes to a bittersweet close with season 4

Dear White People: the last season of the hit Netflix show Dear White People is finally here, and bittersweet in its departure. 

Last season of Dear White People ended with the expose of the Moses Brown (Blair Underwood) scandal, while Sam (Logan Browning) and Lionel (DeRon Horton) got deeper and deeper into the secret of the Order. 

This season, the entire show’s format changes. First of all, it begins in the future with Lionel and Sam reconnecting after a falling out. We later find out the falling out comes from Sam’s senior thesis documentary on the Varsity Show, which is what the audience knows as the present day is following throughout the season. 

Troy (Brandon P. Bell) pitches the idea of the Varsity Show to Armstrong-Parker house. Historically, however, the show was used as a racist form of minstrelsy, but in light of the Black Lives Matter protests, the administration offered it to AP House as an olive branch.

The group is less than impressed with the proposal, and it causes a huge split with AP. Half the students, including freshman Iesha (Joy Liaye) and the Black AF organization begin to protest the show, while Reggie (Marque Richardson) and the Black Student Union work to support it.

Season four splits time between showing the Varsity Show struggles while wrapping up the group’s senior year of school and the future, when Sam and Lionel are trying to write a book and produce a film side by side about their senior year experience. 

The future format is very meta and, quite frankly, depressing. There are “bio locks” to combat future pandemics; everyone's still masked up post-coronavirus pandemic. The future has a greyscale overtone, juxtaposed with the vibrancy of the colors in the present day while they’re still in school.

The back and forth between the future and the present isn’t the only format change, however. To go along with the Varsity Show, which is a 90s jukebox musical, Dear White People uses the same jukebox musical fashion. Using groups like The Proclaimers and NSYNC, the cast of Dear White People broke into song any chance they got to express their deep feelings and issues. 

At first, the musical format is a bit jarring. It’s not like audiences were signing up to watch *Glee or any other musical show; we signed up to watch brilliant activism and complicated relationships play out. However, the format becomes second nature. We forgive the cast’s subpar singing for the fun-loving and exciting energy each member brings to the table. Not to mention the elite song choices, which also save it. 

The original cast of characters are all fantastic this season. You could tell when watching that they’re going to miss this show and these characters, as they all poured their heart and soul into their roles one last time. 

Most notably: Browning as Sam, who has anchored the show with her podcast and attempt at trying to navigate college, which is something everyone can relate to in some ways; Ashley Blaine Featherson as Joelle, whose season four performance showed care, drive and star quality with her insane singing chops; and Richardson as Reggie, whose heartbreaking storyline bleeds with emotion through every scene.

When it comes down to it, there should’ve been two seasons to wrap up the group’s senior year. There was a lot to jam pack in 10 episodes to encapsulate their senior season, and combined with the glimpses into the future, it felt too rushed. 

Though the story was tied with a ribbon and left on a hopeful note, there definitely were questions left unanswered and more character building to be desired. Whether that’s the writers’ issue or the lack of funding for the show is the question.

Dear White People is one of the most honest, brilliant and important shows not just on Netflix, but in general, and will remain so long after its last season release. Watching these characters develop throughout the four seasons has been incredible. 

Though there are always some flaws present in every show, this one came close to perfect. We aren’t ready to let go of these characters, and we’ll miss Dear White People greatly. 


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