Photo By: Noah Nickel via Netflix
Winchester University looks a little different in season four of Dear White People. It’s senior year and the audience is greeted with the familiar satire that the show is known for, but this time as a musical.
The final season was released on Sept. 22, two years after the third season. It is fair to say fans of the show were eagerly awaiting the show’s conclusion. Like other seasons, each episode focuses on a specific character which brings to light new developments in the story. This season takes a new approach, as it includes scenes of the future where the characters have either failed or succeeded in their careers.
Netflix added a short recap of the past three seasons, to jog the audience’s memory of all the events that have happened, from the Black party incident in season one, to the student police incident with Reggie, to the ALTIV YW internet troll with Sam, and professor Moses’ scandal in season three.
Season four focuses on their senior year. It deals with themes that students in their last years of school can relate to; viewers see the stress of the characters as they are closer to stepping into the real world. As the show is known for its dramatic incidents, viewers can certainly expect one as surprising as those from past seasons here too.
The show is highly self-aware and does a good job at making fun of itself when necessary. Season four begins with a glimpse of the future, where masks and online meetings are the norm, very similar to what we are living through right now. The masks are excessively decorated, and there is some quarantine humor. During these scenes in the future, Lionel and Sam meet with their old friends from campus as they relive their senior year.
The future scenes are full of relatable quarantine satire, from unexpected lockdowns to video calls, in which one of the characters says, “why do we talk more when there is quarantine?”
The audience also sees the introduction of new characters and the significance they bring with them. Sam clashes with the new president of the Black Students Union, a character who is basically a younger version of herself (who we as the audience saw in season one). This clash shows the maturity in Sam and leaves an open question of whether Sam’s fire for social justice has died or, whether she just learned to adapt or changed her priorities. Sam passing down the baton to the new generation of students is a difficult sight to behold.
The show maintains its “woke” and activist focus, with the biggest theme throughout the show being Black rights, with other recurring themes this season including racial and sexual identity.
In one episode, we see Sam run through a series of job interviews, and as she excitedly shares all of her achievements and qualifications, she is either ignored, hit on, or not given a fair chance, which highlights the struggle women and especially women of colour have to deal with in both the job market and beyond.
As for the musical pieces, they are unique and do not feel out of place, even though this is the only season they are implemented in. There is a good amount of dialogue between the songs and the songs are well placed. They are short and surprisingly good. What makes them stand out the most is the choreography; this is definitely something to appreciate.
The show’s soundtrack has always been notable and this doesn’t change with the musical theme. One of the characters subtly breaks the fourth wall as he calls the musical numbers “very Brechtian,” which refers to when a fictional character looks into the camera to explain something directly to the audience, and that perfectly encapsulates the satire of the musical moments.
The show may have come to an end, but it leaves the audience deep in thought. It depicts university life in an exaggerated way, full of enjoyable satire while at the same time dealing with important themes. The characters are simultaneously lovable and hateable, and after four seasons you grow fond of the cast as you see them grow and become the best or worst version of themselves.
If you are a die hard fan, this season will certainly provide you with the satisfying conclusion you were hoping for.