The best episodes from Netflix’s ‘Dear White People’ ranked
We knew Dear White People was going to be dope before the series dropped. And when it did, we were ready with popcorn and brownies to watch the whole series in one sitting, waistlines and bed times be damned. When white people cried racism, we bathed in their white tears.
Now, after letting each episode sit in my spirit, I’ve come up with the definitive ranking of good to better to best episodes of Dear White People (with only slight spoilers). I ranked each and every episode of Dear White People because I know best. Fight me.
10. Chapter I
Let’s be honest. This was a Cliffnotes version of the movie, with small changes. It set the stage, reintroduced us to the characters, and let us get used to the new faces filling the familiar roles. It was necessary so we could remember character names and who was fighting with who at the end of the movie but, other than that, not particularly great in comparison to the other episodes.
9. Chapter III
This episode puts the focus on Troy (played by fellow Trojan Brandon Bell). He is the Black golden boy. But the episode is short on actual developments. We see that he basically is at odds with his own pedigree, hoping to somehow find an escape hatch. This lead to contradictory and sometimes risky behavior, including voting against himself in the election for school president and having an affair with a professor (who just happens to be played by the never aging Nia Long). But none of this actually nets out to much over the rest of the 10 episodes.
8. Chapter II
This episode is vital in that it exposes who was really behind the racist party that sparked tensions on campus in “Chapter I”. It is well-written and emotional. But other than that, it only gives us a glimpse into Lionel’s (played by DeRon Horton) roots and his capacity for deception.
7. Chapter VI
I loved how this episode explored Reggie (played by Marque Richardson) as a character and allowed him to be vulnerable. It also includes that super scandalous hookup that lingers for the rest of the season. But in all honesty, I saw that coming from a mile away and spent the bulk of the episode just waiting for it to happen.
6. Chapter IX
There was so much of this episode to love. It had Coco (played by Antoinette Robinson) going natural. It depicted some of the true depths of sinister found in white supremacy. It even had Coco’s wig getting pulled off in the heat of sex.
All good times. But the main focus was Coco’s blind ambition. And while other shows might show this in a superficial way, DWP did it with nuance, managing to find the altruism in her villainy.
5. Chapter VIII
This was just a brilliant episode. Following Lionel as he yearns for something more with Troy, it was heartbreaking to see him want something he’ll never have and the lengths he would go to for a chance. Kudos to DeRon Horton for his performance.
4. Chapter IV
Far too often, we don’t get to see positive relationships between Black women on TV. Yeah, Insecure did a great job of that, but this episode of DWP took it even deeper. I don’t think anyone expected to see that Sam and Coco were once besties, but this development added immense depth to their current conflict. It also touched on Black sorority culture and colorism in ways most wouldn’t even dare.
3. Chapter VII
You’d think a show called Dear White People wouldn’t have an episode dedicated to a white person, but it did. And you definitely wouldn’t expect it to rank this high on my list, but it does.
This episode was vital in showing the struggle of being an ally. And it was one of my favorites because it poked fun at white people, showed them a bit of sympathy, and even exposed some of the wrong-headed things Black folk can do to allies. Hilarious and thought provoking.
2. Chapter X
The final episode of season 1 (there will be a season 2, no doubt) blew everything up. The protest gets co-opted by white protesters, half with a legitimate concern about how drinking has gone overlooked by faculty and the other half making a mockery of protests. Lionel spills all the tea on the faculty’s plans at the kid gloves town hall. Sam loses her boo while Lionel gets a surprise kiss.
But the most important moment revolved around Troy being turned from a perfect embodiment of respectability to just another Black man in handcuffs. It was a striking end to the story, and it would have been all anyone was talking about if it wasn’t for “Chapter V”.
1. Chapter V
This is the episode that rocked all of us Black folks to our cores. It perfectly depicted a situation we all know too well, when a simple situation rapidly escalates and end with a gun pointed at a Black person. Even more unnerving was what followed, as both Black and white partiers implored for the officer to put his weapon down.
But what made this episode the best of the season was what happened both immediately before and after that situation. The argument that led to this fallout was about white people using the n-word. I hope that every white person who watched this series took the lessons from that to heart. And right after, Reggie sought solitude so that he could deal with his feelings alone. That image of Reggie crying in his dorm room floor was the single most memorable moment of the entire season.
If there was one major disappointment with Dear White People, it was that one of its most relatable characters, Joelle, did not get a simple episode that focused on her.
Instead, she was relegated to the perpetual friend longing for love with no back story. This is a major miss for a show that impeccably weaved it’s characters’ origins into the plot. And come the debut of season 2, best believe that I will be waiting at the door for Joelle to get her moment in the sun.
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