Warning: this article contains spoilers from Dear Whitesis the last season. Read at your own risk.
Dear Whites the final season, which now airs on Netflix, is a fun and vibrant ’90s musical extravaganza as the best of Winchester tackles its final year with iconic tunes from the decade.
There are a lot of notable musical numbers in the last 10 episodes of the show, but we can’t stop thinking about Sam and Gabe breaking up via NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” in Episode 4. Maybe it’s the NSYNC fangirl coming out – raise your hand if you too read their fan fic on Angelfire at the time – or the grungy version of the series on the pop classic makes it feel like it’s new , but this song choice was on the spot for the moment.
That’s why it’s surprising that series creator Justin Simien, who also served as a showrunner, first fought against his inclusion before finally falling apart. “At first, I didn’t completely agree. It took a lot of convincing, ”he told TVLine. To be fair, he had a perfectly good reason for wanting to exclude it.
Despite being a catchy, chart-topping single, Simien notes that “Bye Bye Bye” is also “White people singing R&B, which is totally culturally appropriate.” The Dear Whites the boss was admittedly thrilled to hear this kind of sound coming out of pop music at the time, and so really liked the lead single from the band’s second album No strings attached. “As a black man, he’s just one of those guilty favorites,” adds Simien. “It’s one of those problematic favorites.”
“We looked at a lot of possible options there, and we kept coming back to ‘Bye Bye Bye’,” co-showrunner Jaclyn Moore said of the team’s relentless request. “We kept saying to each other, ‘Justin, what now? We made a lot of other choices.
It also helped that the bolder version chosen for the show – played by Logan Browning and John Patrick Amedori – gave it a completely different feel. Additionally, according to Simien, the writers have found a “narrative reason to forward it because Sam both enjoys certain aspects of her relationship with Gabe when she is also embarrassed about it.” Loving NSYNC is one of those things for each other, and it was so clearly a brilliant choice that I had to stray from it at some point.
Browning, who plays Sam, says she was thrilled to have the chance to face a favorite from her childhood. “I was living my dreams as a little girl. It was incredible, ”she shares.
Meanwhile, Amedori, who plays Gabe, never imagined he would perform the show’s pop hit. “I thought I would sing covers of The Cure, like a remake of ‘Valley Girls’ before doing ‘Bye Bye Bye’,” he says. “I’ll be honest – the highlight of my career.”