Here Are The Best Friendships (Or Situationships) Of 'Dear White People,' Ranked

In Season 2 of 'Dear White People,' you'll come for the drama, but stay for the friendship dynamics.

In Season 2 of Dear White People, you'll come for the drama but stay for the friendship dynamics.

Seeing kinship in action can be such an emotionally triggering thing. Powering through Season 2 of Dear White People's 10 episodes in one sitting will send you back to the friendships, relationships and situationships that toggled between terrific and utterly toxic. While the story of Samantha White, a very woke mixed chick grappling with both sides of her identity while matriculating through Winchester University, is the series' entry point, the relationships within and outside of her orbit are the real treasures to unpack.

From bestie Joelle Brooks, friendly rival Colandrea "Coco" Conners and forbidden lover Gabe Mitchell to revolutionary Reggie Green, status climber Troy Fairbanks and timid truth seeker Lionel Higgins, none of the surface interactions between the show's primary characters are exactly what they appear to be. Even seemingly periphery characters like Kelsey Phillips and Wesley Alvarez hold an extraordinary amount of weight in the emotional development and psyches of the aforementioned characters.

With only minor spoilers ahead—if you haven't caught up on Season 1, that's your own fault—take a dive into a ranking of the most meaningful (and meaningless) relationship dynamics of Dear White People Season 2.


10. Lionel and Silvio

If there was ever a case for a toxic, leech-driven friendship, Silvio and Lionel would be the poster children for it. Plainly speaking, Silvio is no good for Lionel and everyone knows it. While Lionel is technically Silvio's underling at the school paper, the former is leagues ahead when it comes to natural curiosity and a dedication to truth-telling. Yet and still, Lionel wants so badly to prove his greatness and worthiness as a journalist (and a writer-lover-friend) to Silvio. Silvio may have been Lionel's first kiss after coming to terms with his queerness, but proves this season that he is the last one he can trust in any emotional (or ethical) capacity.


9. Sam and Reggie

This was the meager flame we followed along with on Season 1. Sam and Reggie share the same fiery passion—one that eventually came to a head in the bedroom—for the betterment of black people at Winchester and beyond. However, on a soul-to-soul level, they don't appear to provide the care and emotional sensitivity that each of them needs in their true match. They look like a power couple in theory, but in practice, they serve each other better as friends and fighters on the front line.


8. Sam and Joelle

Selfishness has a way of bleeding through even the strongest of bonds, whether or not either party in the relationship can detect its ominous presence. It is very clear that Joelle Brooks is Sam White's ride-or-die. Whenever Sam is on the brink of tears from a breakdown or a breakthrough, Joelle has Kleenex, a strong shoulder and an open ear propped and ready. However, at times, especially in Season 2, that same level of friendship isn't always properly reciprocated. Joelle is the springboard on which Sam hashes out her best ideas for her hot-button radio show, "Dear White People." (She eventually asks Joelle to join the show as an official co-host, even though that offer was long overdue). Sam's crippling inability to pay attention and yield to Joelle's true wants and needs past her own—it's frustrating how long it takes Sam to notice Joelle's stifled attraction towards Reggie—is something that could've set the friendship back had Joelle not been so dedicated in her role as a true friend. Talk about loyalty.


7. Sam and Gabe

Let's just put this out on front street: Watching the back and forth love fiasco between Sam and Gabe can become tiresome. So many of Sam's biggest struggles exist within her mind, including how who she chooses to love can impact her work's effectiveness. How much pain can Sam put herself through with denying love, support, a safe space for not only her heart but also her ideas, regardless if it looks like she's negating her "wokeness"? There's no debate that Gabe messed up royally last season. By calling the police at that on-campus party and a "rent-a-cop" showing up to "de-escalate" the situation with a gun, Reggie is emotionally damaged until further notice. Even without saying it, Sam carries the weight of that guilt and takes responsibility for bringing Gabe, a cultural outsider, into her friends' sacred space. However, the heart wants what it wants. Watching her deny her desires to forgive him for those differences and honor the things that undeniably bind them is an eyesore.

6. Reggie and Joelle

Joelle and Reggie are the hopeful flame viewers had to wait two seasons to see properly fanned. Joelle has had coy feelings for Reggie for quite some time, and it seemed as if he felt something towards her, too. However, they never explored the possibility because Reg was still in hot pursuit of Sam, the ideal revolutionary lover in his mind (even though Joelle is exactly the balance of "fight-the-power on Wednesday but catch Love & Hip Hop-knockoffs on Thursday" that he needed). But this season, when he and Sam decide to return to each other's friend zones, and Sam lets Joelle know that she has no claim on him, what a refreshing feeling it is to see their stars (finally!) start to align.


5. Lionel and Wesley

Lionel is one person who deserves to find a little gold at the end of his rainbow. In the show, he's an observant creature by nature and often seen in the shadows of the social scene, partly because he's trying to find a newsworthy scoop but mostly because he's awkward and shy. On top of that, he's inching closer to his sexuality comfort zone, but the dating waters are still murky for him. Vying for Silvio's attention proves to be a bust, but Wesley, a newcomer to the Dear White People family, offers a glimmer of hope. There is a natural chemistry between the two. Wesley doesn't mind Lionel's awkwardness; in fact, he is charmed by it. The playful sort, Wesley inspires his hesitant beau to lighten up and offers encouragement during Lionel's bouts of self-doubt. Wesley helps the aspiring journalist honor his sexual urges and share in intimacy for the first time. Lionel finally gets to be someone who is wanted.


4. Sam and Coco

To the naked eye, Sam White and Coco Conners are worlds apart. Presented initially as "enemies" in Season 1, we learned that the two former roomies had a closer past than we thought. Choosing the civil route, they eventually hashed out their differences once they realized they were taking different paths to the same end goal: respect for the black students at Winchester. In Season 2, they remain cordial, but in their separate social circles for the most part. However, when Sam suffers a devastating personal loss that causes her to go back home for a few days, Coco insists on coming with her and Joelle. (She made it a point to remind her how close their families once were.) Where Joelle is gentle with comforting Sam, Coco always gives it to her straight, no chaser, providing insight Sam may not want, but needs to hear. Sam, being the hard edge that she is, flourishes with this sort of tough love because she understands it is just that: love.


3. Troy and Reggie

In the same way that Coco and Sam run on opposite sides of the track, Troy and Reggie seem to be eons away from each other in terms of personalities and purpose. Troy has been groomed by his father, a dean at Winchester, to work within the very white confines of the school's political infrastructure. Reggie, a man of the movement who was scarred and betrayed by the same university—who, innocent and unarmed, stared down the barrel of a university officer's gun last season—chooses to rebel against it. As a continuation from an aha-moment last season, Troy continues to internally struggle with identifying a purpose outside of his father's rigid shadow.

In search of brutally honest feedback about who he is and who he once was, he consults Reggie, an old-friend-turned-distant-colleague who is far from delicate when dishing out his response. However, free from having to fake public niceties (and with the help of some natural vices), these two walking representations of "strong black men" are finally able to unpack the heavy things within them. Confusion, defeat, embarrassment, shame, depression, worthlessness, lack of love—things that feel too risky to display on the outside. They are descriptors that don't necessarily fit the mold of who they have been to the watchful eyes of Winchester. This delicate moment of brotherhood—which right now is even more important than technical friendship—is an important image to bring to the forefront.

2. Coco and Kelsey

Kelsey Phillips has been a treat to watch drift from the periphery of the character pool to become an anchor in one of the most emotionally gratifying scenes of Dear White People. Her character—highly energetic, preppy, quirky, queer (as we later find out) and in desperate search of Sorbet, her dognapped pup—could easily be brushed off as an "annoying," more airy-minded version of her new roommate, Coco. But when Coco finds out she is pregnant mid-semester and tries to quickly decide if life will be best with or without a mini-Coco, it is Kelsey who drops everything and dedicates herself to her friend's prenatal care.

Whether it's whipping up Trinidadian remedies for morning sickness and massaging her feet or accompanying her to the clinic and offering genuine words of comfort, Kelsey becomes that sister  Coco desperately needed, quietly sought out (she went out for a shallow sorority in Season 1) but stifled beneath perceived arrogance. Although Troy accidentally saw Coco in her wig cap during a sex blooper—the one downside of roughhousing in a wig—no one sees her vulnerability as Kelsey has been able to, without chastising, judging or taking advantage of her as she works through a hard time.


1. Troy and Lionel

While all of the characters in this season of Dear White People are dynamically written, there's an undeniable satisfaction that comes from seeing Troy Fairbanks, the handsome socialite and Type-A male, and Lionel, a nerdy writer dipping his toe into queer sexuality, in the same room. Between elementary and high school, young black men put forth much effort to prove how "not gay" they are as a defense mechanism to safely escape the taunting, teasing, bullying and overall social scrutiny that comes from narrow-minded youth. That sort of learned behavior squelches potentially beautiful, healthy friendships before they can even begin.

When Lionel is paired with Troy as a roommate, it's evident that Lionel has a mild crush on this very heterosexual man who will never reciprocate his feeling, but Troy doesn't show any sort of "expected" discomfort or disdain in sharing that space with Lionel. He barely even bats an eyelash. Differences in sexual preferences and social mannerisms have no effect on the development of their teacher-student, open-book friendship whatsoever, and it's a beautiful sight to see. This normalization of the spectrum within the black male experience—within Troy, Lionel and all the men of Dear White People—is refreshing, and a vision of what today's society could be if we simply grew the f**k up and honored our authentic selves.

From the Web

More on Vibe

CIRCA 1980: Photo of Bill Withers
David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Bill Withers' Greatest Hits: Remixed, Sampled And Covered

The recent loss of legends in jazz, soul and classical music have saddened the music industry and reminded us of their touching gifts to music. The passing of Manu Dibango, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Alan Merrill brought endless tributes from peers and fans with the recent loss of soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers doing the same.

With a mirage of hits, the iconic songwriter left his mark on music with the release of his debut album Just As I Am in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" put a spotlight on his songwriting while 1977's "Lovely Day" reminded the industry of his signature vocals. Withers released eight studio albums, one live album and garnered three Grammys for his powerful songs that gave hope and love to fans to this day.

Hip-hop and R&B have gained the most from Withers as his music went on to inspire records like "No Diggity" by BLACKStreet, "Roses" by Kanye West and other songs from UGK, Dr. Dre, Jill Scott and more.

Take a look at some of Withers' finest tunes covered, remixed and sampled below.


8. “Lovely Day” | Menagerie (1977)

Sampled On: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999) LunchMoneyLewis - “It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day” feat. Aminè | Pets 2 Soundtrack (2019) Swizz Beatz - “Take A Picture” |One Man Band (2007)

Standout: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999)

Short for "The Whole Damn Yay," the group used Withers' sample while throwing a splash of The Bay's laid back flavor. With cameos from future legends like E-40 and Ray Luv, the single already embodied the best of R&B and hip-hop with guest verses from Too Short, Mac Mall and Otis & Shug. The mimosas and yacht are also a great touch.

Covered By: Jill Scott, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault Vol. 1 (2011) Alt-J, This Is All Yours (2014) Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (2013) Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Standout: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Who was going to beat a chorus singing to the lordt? Franklin's take on the classic gives us stirring gospel and appreciation for Withers and God. There are plenty of covers that have lifted the same vocals as Withers, but the ones listed have put their unique spin on the track.

7. “Ain't No Sunshine” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001) Lil B - “Up And Down” | Based Jam (2012) 2Pac- "Soulja's Story" |  2Pacalypse Now (1991)

Standout: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)

"No Sunshine" served as the only single from DMX's film alongside Steven Seagal, which gave everyone the perfect backdrop to the movie and X's intricate storytelling. Both the original and flipped version points out the dark elements of our lives. Withers penned the song after watching the film 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses, he pondered over the toxicity in his life. "Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you," he said in 2004 to SongFacts. "It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."

Covered By: Soul For Real | Candy Rain (1994) Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972) The Boris Gardiner Happening | Is What's Happening (1973) The Temptations | Solid Rock (1972)

Standout: Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972)

At 14, the future King of Pop gave a riveting cover of Withers' hit for his debut album, Got To Be There. From his vocal control throughout the track to the instrumentation, his cover takes the song to another level of heartbreak.

6. "Grandma's Hands” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996) Big K.R.I.T. - “I Gotta Stay” | K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) Brother Ali - “Waheedah's Hands” | Champion (2004)

Standout: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996)

R&B heads are well aware of BLACKstreet's neverending ballads and the genius of Teddy Riley. But the pivot of their sound for their sophomore album Another Level was due to Withers and the William “Stylez” Stewart. Speaking to Fact Mag in 2017, the creator of New Jack Swing gave credit to Stylez for bringing him the sample of "Grandma's Hands."

“If he hadn’t played that sample for me, there would never be a ‘No Diggity’ And if he didn’t write it according to the melody I gave him so it would sound that way because I wanted it to sound funky,” he said. “I wanted it to be appealing to everyone, but mostly to women. I wanted every woman to feel like they were the ‘No Diggity’ girl and that song was about them and it came across. And now, still, today, that song plays and people are on that dancefloor.”

Covered By: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981) Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton (1971) Barbra Streisand, Butterfly (1974)

Standout: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981)

Gil Scott-Heron's version of the soul classic reminded us of his versatile talents. From spoken word to his vocal abilities, the Godfather of rap music always came through with his own sound and style. Reflections was one of four albums the late artist dropped in the 80s with critics looking to it as one of his finest projects. Other cuts from the album included "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "B Love."

5. "Use Me" | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012) J. Cole- "Dollar And A Dream II" | The Warm-Up (2009) Leela James - “So Good" | Fall For You (2014) UGK - "Use Me Up" | The Southern Way (1992)

Standout: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012)

Lamar's take on "Use Me" blended right into the themes of his debut album, Good kid, Maad City allowing the artist to create another world on the project. To make things even better, Lamar also sampled Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" for the track.

Covered By: Grace Jones, Indigo Nights, Live (2008) Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit  (2004) Issac Hayes, Dr. Dolittle Soundtrack (1998)

Standout: Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit (2004)

On his third solo album, Jagger linked with Rick Rubin to test his creative energy, allowing him to work with Lenny Kravitz on their version of "Use Me." Colliding worlds was one thing but to hear Kravitz's vocals come in on the bridge, set the track apart from the rest.

4. “Kissing My Love” | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: J. Cole - “The Cut Off" featuring kiLL Edward  | KOD (2018) Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992) Masta Ace- "Movin On" | Take A Look Around (1990) Master P- "Bastard Child" | The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! | 1994

Standout: Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992)

"Kissing My Love" is one of most sampled from Withers catalog, thanks to its feverish drums. It's also why it fits into Dr. Dre's single and the G-funk era.

3. Grover Washington's “Just The Two of Us” featuring Bill Withers | Winelight (1981)

Sampled/Covered On:  Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997) Eminem- "Just The Two of Us" | Slim Shady EP (1997) Keri Hilson- "Pretty Girl Rock" | No Boys Allowed (2010)

Standout: Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997)

Touching and soulful, Smith's dedication to his eldest son Trey is just too cute for words.

2. “Let It Be” | Just As I Am  (1967)

The Original: The Beatles - “Let It Be” | Let It Be (1968)

"Let It Be" is a pretty special record. Aretha Franklin recorded a version a year before the release of The Beatles' version and Withers gave his take on the record in the 70s. Slightly faster, his upbeat take on "Let It Be" just hits different.

1. “Rosie” | Menagerie Re-Issue (1977)

Sampled On: Kanye West - “Roses” |  Late Registration (2005)

As the somber part of Late Registration, "Roses" brings us into Kanye's world where he contemplates the mortality of a loved one. It's a sentimental take on the sample and one of the artist's most underrated songs. It's also a hidden gem for Withers as it isn't featured on Menagerie's LP. It was added as a bonus track on

Enjoy the jams in playlist form below.

Continue Reading

Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.


View this post on Instagram


We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

Continue Reading

Top Stories