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    Posted on May 4, 2018

    Joelle Finally Gets Her Own Episode On "Dear White People"

    And it's as good as you hoped it would be!

    Dear White People returned Friday with a second season (or volume, as they call it). If you're familiar with the Netflix series, you know that each episode centers around one of the main characters.

    Netflix

    Season 1 gave us episodes from the POV of Sam (Logan Browning), Lionel (DeRon Horton), Reggie (Marque Richardson), Troy (Brandon P. Bell), Coco (Antoinette Robertson), and Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) — but left out Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson), one of the series' most notable characters.

    This season, Joelle finally graduates to main character status and gets her own episode, allowing Featherson to step out of the "dark-skinned best friend" character trope.

    Netflix

    As it happens, Episode 5 follows Featherson's character Joelle attempting to do the same.

    The episode tackles Joelle's struggle with colorism as a dark-skinned black woman who constantly finds herself in the shadow of her light-skinned best friend.

    Saeed Adyani / Netflix

    Joelle and Sam's friendship is the strongest out of all the bonds in the squad, but their dynamic is complex, with issues that often go unseen (by Sam) and unspoken (by Joelle). Colorism is at the center of their conflict: Joelle believes Sam's biracial physical traits make her more appealing to most (hi, Reggie) and has grown accustomed to shrinking herself in Sam's presence before others do it for her. Sam doesn't notice because her privilege in that arena makes it a blindspot for her.

    To its credit, the episode doesn't paint Joelle as totally insecure. She knows she's the shit — she just wants everyone else to wake up and realize she is too.

    Scott Patrick Green / Netflix

    It also gives us a look at Joelle's backstory and current life outside of the group. We learn that she's as brilliant as she is beautiful and funny. She comes from a loving two-parent household and attended an all-black high school that helped give her a deep sense of self. Despite all this, she's still often framed as a sidekick because, as she puts it, “This world is not kind to the Kellys [Rowland] of this world."

    We also get a MUCH-needed romantic storyline costarring a very fine chocolate man.

    Greg Gayne / Netflix

    There's a hilarious plot twist here that I refuse to spoil for you, but there's tons of A+ flirting that takes place in between that I was all the way here for. As Joelle says in the DWP trailer, their banter is so good it's as if Shonda Rhimes wrote it.

    And yes, the new season does touch on the love triangle between Joelle, Reggie, and Sam as well. Including a surprise ending you won't see coming.

    Netflix / Via giphy.com

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