In many ways, it feels like the episode Dear White People has been building toward since its premiere. Says Simien, "You know, that episode came about in the room; we were sort of talking about, if we trapped characters someplace, what would happen? And Jack Moore, who is the writer on that episode, has a playwriting background, and I grew up in the theater, and I just sort of thought, 'Well, wouldn't it be interesting to do a two-person play in the radio station?'" The result: A back-and-forth where the argument is the wedge separating Sam and Gabe, and keeping score of who's right, who's wrong, and even what the argument is about is futile.
Once more, it's empathy that turns the fight into a heartfelt conversation. "You realize that it's just the act of arguing that's keeping them apart, and that if they were somehow able to overcome the fight, whatever the fight may be about, none of the issues that they need to be so right about matter as much once they come together. At the end of the day, isn't that what we as a species are designed to do, is to cooperate and work together?" Roasting a person or dragging them online is easy; spouting racist invective is, as Dear White People tragically demonstrates, even easier. When you talk to that person face to face, though, that changes. "Without moralizing it," Simien says, "or extrapolating it again to, 'This is what you should do' -- it's not a moral, it's not, 'Go out into the world and have this conversation with every white person you see, or every black person you see'! -- but you can maybe look at the two of them talking and go, 'Oh my God, that's totally me and so-and-so.'"