A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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.
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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?