In Three Words: Abundance, Exploring, Evolving
NOTE: If you haven't read my reviews on "Dear White People" Volumes 1 & 2. Be sure to peep the links below. If you've done that, enjoy the review of Volume 3!
Netflix has ever so slightly given the good people at "Dear White People" more support as the show evolves. And boy is there some evolution going on in this particular 'Volume' of DWP. SO MUCH EVOLUTION. I don't want to waste time giving overall thoughts. Let's just dive right in!
So let's start with the continuation of the "Order of X" where if you watched Vol.2 (Why are you here if you haven't?) finally gave us the opportunity to see Giancarlo Esposito make an appearance that isn't on a narration basis. Sam & Lionel (Logan Browning & DeRon Horton) are given this quest to solve the puzzle that The Order left. But what would seem like an A Story doesn't really become as much as the Vol.2 finale would like you to believe. It's only until the last few episodes of Vol.3 is where it comes to the forefront. I would like to think that this was an early decision by the writers to not take this show too outside of what it was originally.(A "Dramedy" set in a Multicultural University)
While I'm fine with the arc in retrospect, the long-awaited detail of how powerful The Order was very underwhelming on Ep.10. It was made to feel momentous but it ended pretty flat for me. Esposito's character sheds a little bit of light on The Order but then tells the two to forget everything. And they fundamentally do so. Underwhelming right? The final shot indicated that Troy (Brandon P. Bell) will be thrown into this story-line but as finales go, the previous Volumes did a far better job.
But where that particular story-line flops a little. The individual arcs are sublime. New characters, support characters gain more prominence, the amount of juggling that is done in 10 Episodes, around 30 minutes apiece is silly. Here are some of the storylines all packed into a half hour show with only 10 episodes(!!!):
Sam trying to find her voice as a filmmaker.
Troy realising that "Pastiche" is trash and tries to create direct competition.
Lionel exploring his sexuality (And documenting it via his "Chester" books)
CoCo (Antoinette Robertson) trying to get a grant. (Her episode w/her mother (Yvette Nicole Brown) was excellent and I've waited a long time for more exploration on her past.)
Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson) & Reggie making their relationship official and then spending the Volume trying to keep it alive. (It was actually disappointing how Joelle was made out in the trailers to be the "lead" but in essence she was the secondary for Reggie's arc.)
Reggie (Marque Richardson) being annoying AF, messing Joelle about and then finding his mentor in Moses Brown. (Blair Underwood) While I'm not a fan of Reggie, I can totally relate to having a mentor that becomes a BIG letdown.
Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) not having money for the first time in his life.
Brooke (Courtney Sauls) becomes a female fuckboy (Fuckgirl?) and uncovering the Moses story.
Kelsey (Nia Jervier) being the victim of Brooke's Fuckgirl-ness.
And everything with Moses which ends up becoming the big arc that hovers above everything.
I haven't even mentioned Al (Jemar Michael) or Rashid (Jeremy Tardy) who gain more weight in the show (Story-wise not physically) and how can I forget the Rookie of the Volume D'Unte (Griffin Matthews) who comes in with as Lionel's guide to the deep end of homosexuality. That character fit in like a glove and was such a refreshing character at that.
The prior themes of this show are still prevalent. But additions like not having enough money for education, anxiety, moving relationships forward too quickly, having heroes, black people making fools of themselves in film and the very hot topic, sexual assault and who to believe really makes this Volume stand out.
I think this Volume is the best when looking at it from a micro lens. Whilst the episode structure doesn't change, the pacing of the stories, integration of new characters and giving existing ones more time to shine is something that really needs to be heralded. It's probably the most replayable Volume of DWP to date.
The one thing that just irked me was the "Order of X" arc, I understand they didn't want to make the show into something that it's not. But if you're going to introduce this type of "lore", then there needs to be more time invested in it.
But regardless if it's there or not, the show has plenty of other things to chew on as a viewer. The characters continue to blossom in their own way and none of their actions seems forced. This is still THE best show on Netflix right now and I don't see an existing show changing my mind on that. Salute to Justin Simien (I didn't even mention the beautiful cinematography throughout!) and the rest of the gang.