Netflix’s Dear White People is an adaption of Justin Simien’s 2014 film of the same name. The show documents the lives of a group of black students as they navigate the ups and downs of attending Winchester University, a predominantly white Ivy League school. Throughout its two seasons on the streaming platform, the show has tackled a number of social issues, including racism, police brutality, and homophobia, and it looks like, Season 3 will be no different.
The third season of the show continues to tackle similar issues addressed in past episodes, but it also centers on the issue of sexual assault and the #MeToo movement. While chatting with Variety, the show’s creator, Justin Simien, opened up about the decision to explore the topic and how he incorporated it into the storyline.
The sexual assault storyline focuses on guest star Blair Underwood, who plays Moses Brown, a charismatic former professor who returned to the university to share his knowledge and develop a new app with the students of Winchester, including Reggie, played by Marque Richardson. As Reggie spends more and more time with his new mentor, he becomes totally enamored and begins to idolize him.
Later, Caitlin Carver’s Muffy reveals that she had been assaulted by Moses while at his home. The allegations quickly spread across the campus and viewers soon realized, there was a clear division between the students. There were students who believed Muffy, while others, including Reggie, refused to accept that his mentor could commit such a heinous act.
Eventually, Reggie confronts Moses, who initially tries to shift the blame to Muffy before reluctantly admitting he was guilty. Simien said it was a creative decision to center the story around a character admired by everyone.
“We had to blind you — the audience — from seeing really who he is, almost right away,” Simien explained. “Because that’s the hardest part. [You say to yourself] ‘Well, I never knew that so and so was a sexual predator’ or ‘I can’t even imagine such and such doing such and such things.'”
“Well, no, of course, you can’t imagine it. That’s how it works. You have to be kind of ‘glamoured’ by them in order for them to operate in that way.”
Simien said the writers of the show penned the episode during the time the allegations against Bill Cosby had resurfaced, and around the same time the Surviving R. Kelly and Leaving Neverland documentaries were released. The documentaries explored allegations of abuse brought against singer R. Kelly and Michael Jackson, respectively.
The show’s creator also said he was also inspired by his personal life after some of his own heroes turned out to be “antagonists” instead of true “allies.”
Season 3 of Dear White People is currently available for streaming on Netflix.