Netflix’s upcoming Dear White People has been on our list of must-watch TV since it was announced that the streaming service had picked up the series.
Adapted from writer and director Justin Simien’s 2014 film of the same name, Dear White People focuses on Black students at a pre-dominantly white fictional Ivy League school and the challenges they face on campus. It’s a smart, witty, hilarious look at race.
Back in February, Netflix announced the release date for the upcoming series and, while many praised it, there were a few vocal haters who accused the show of being “anti-white.”
ESSENCE spoke to Simien and stars Logan Browning and Brandon P. Bell about the online hate. And, Simien is really unbothered by it all. “I am tagged on literally everything and the vast majority of negative comments really come from a handful of people, all of whom I suspect might be the same people because they each have, like, five followers. Their purpose is to give the illusion that there’s a lot of them.”
The day of the date announcement saw Dear White People trending as those few called for a ban on Netflix, something no one is really willing to do. Simien even joked that all of the hoopla would be incorporated into season two, expanding on the surprise he felt that so many could find the teaser, which features Browning’s Sam White calling for an end to blackface parties, threatening. Some even referred to it as a call for “white genocide.”
“A part of me is fascinated by it and a part of me is saddened by it,” Simien added, “because if this were 1980-something, they could really shut me down and threaten my life. Just decades ago I could be lynched for saying this s–t. So, yeah it makes me sad, but it really makes me sad because of our history.”
However, the director added that the hate also emboldened fans of the show and sent views on the date announcement teaser through the roof. “Frankly, it’s doing us a favor. I think we’re up to half a million views on a date announcement,” Simien added, the announcement currently has almost five million views, “It’s unprecendented for a Netflix date announcement, so cool. Thanks, I’ll take it.”