Dear White People
By Dana Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
College is complicated in series on race, sex, activism.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Students speak out against the racist climate on their college campus. A character exposes the undercurrent of racism by breaking into an organization's Facebook account and sending a blackface party invitation.
Positive Role Models
An African-American female student admits to breaking into the Facebook account of a group in a subversive effort to expose the racist climate on campus. This character also has a romantic relationship with a white male. At first, she hesitates to make either the break-in or the relationship public, fearing retribution. But she follows her heart and speaks the truth of who she is socially and personally. Some ambiguity among some characters. There's some negative stereotyping, infighting, and personal attacks among people in the groups working together against racism.
Violence & Scariness
Some characters crash a blackface party where there's obvious racism and the potential threat of violence. Brief discussion between a white male character and an African-American male character about getting into a fight.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Multiple discussions related to the college campus casual sex hookup culture. At least one scene of full-frontal nudity of a woman. One girl talks jokingly about another girl "going down" on a guy. A scene depicts two characters obviously having sex in bed, but no sensitive nudity shown. Three characters discuss having fluid sexuality and start planning a threesome but are interrupted. A character listens in on his roommate having loud sex in the next room; the same character is implied to be masturbating, although only his face is shown. A student has sex with a professor who's wearing only lingerie under a coat in a boathouse. Reference to "makeup sex." A couple has sex in a car. A group of students on campus gets together weekly to watch a popular television series; one scene that they're watching shows a male president telling a female staffer that her job is to "blow" him.
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Frequent swearing including "s--t," "motherf---er," "f--k," "ass," "dick," "p---y," "bitch," the "N" word, and other racist and sexist words.
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Products & Purchases
Consumer and media brands mentioned in the first episode: McDonald's, Forever 21, Game of Thrones.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
College party scenes with excessive drinking shown throughout the series. One character asks another for urine to help him pass a drug test.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dear White People is a drama/comedy that tackles the issues of race, class, and gender on college campuses. Set on a fictitious Ivy League college campus, the show uses humor mixed with serious discussions about tough topics to address real-life, current events. The series' main character is a student named Samantha who is a campus radio personality with her show Dear White People. When her show gets backlash from the popular student satirical publication, she sets out to expose the racism in its ranks. Dear White People also portrays the realities of the college party and hookup cultures, as well as social media's influence on college students' reputations. There's a lot of talk about (and scenes of) sex, including full-frontal nudity of a woman and a student having an affair with a professor. There is also lots of language (including "s--t," "motherf---er," "f--k," "ass," "dick," "p---y," "bitch," and the "N" word) and some disturbing scenes of racism and misogyny at a blackface party as well as on a television show watched by a group of students.
Where to Watch
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Dear White People
Based on 6 parent reviews
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Funny and thought provoking with a some questionable content.
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What's the Story?
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE is set on an Ivy League college campus where racism is felt by the minority students and ignored by others. The series' main character is a student named Samantha who is a campus radio personality and leader of an African-American student group. Samantha's radio show, Dear White People, gets backlash from the popular student satirical publication Pastiche (think Harvard's Lampoon), so she sets out to expose the racism in Pastiche's ranks. When it's exposed that she broke into Pastiche's Facebook account to send a blackface party invitation -- and that she has a "secret white bae" -- Samantha is caught in the middle of her political, social, and personal worlds.
Is It Any Good?
For older teens not yet in college (and adults long out of college), this show offers a look at the modern realities of life for many college students. The main characters find themselves embroiled in some serious issues of racism, sexual politics, ethics, and social justice activism, all while their social media feeds are constantly updating them on what other people think about what they do and say.
Samantha, the host of the campus radio show Dear White People and head of an African-American student group, is a particularly thought-provoking character. She tries to hide a "hookup" relationship with a white male teacher's assistant; once exposed on social media, however, she eventually decides to go proudly public with her feelings. The constant cursing and sexual references throughout the show are a bit over the top, and they can be a distraction from Dear White People's important main messages. That said, this is a show about college, and overuse of swear words and sexual humor in college isn't a huge stretch from reality. Amid the iffy language and jokes about sex acts, Dear White People is smart, relevant, and worth watching.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the college drinking and hookup culture and how it's portrayed in Dear White People. Since it's a reality on many college campuses, discuss the choices your teen will soon be facing and how they can stay safe and responsible in college.
Ask your teen what they think about the show's title: Dear White People. If they had to name a radio show to talk about the social ills they'd like to expose, what would they talk about and what would they name it?
Families can talk about Samantha's choice to break into the campus' satirical publication's Facebook account to send an invitation to a blackface party. Is it OK to do that to expose hidden racism? Would you have made that choice? Why, or why not?
- Premiere date: April 28, 2017
- Cast: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Justin Dobies, Marque Richardson, Brandon P. Bell
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Activism
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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