REVIEW: Apple TV+’s “Dear…” reminds us of the positive power of pop culture

(Apple TV+)

Dear Apple TV,

At a time when the world is being forced to separate for health reasons, your show “Dear …” has possibly brought us all closer together in a way that would have been unimagined prior to the appearance of a global pandemic that seeks to isolate us and undermine the way of life we have known until now.

… For which I say, thank you.

I wanted to write this letter, not just as a way to say thank you for giving the world an inspirational show to watch but also for a way to share comfort with each other as well as a sense that things will be eventually okay again. This show is something that we all really need right now, more than ever. You see, I happen to think that letters matter.

Maybe I should be addressing this to Executive Producer R.J. Cutler, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning producer? He clearly had a vision when he connected fans via their letters of gratitude to the icons who altered and shaped lives with meaningful impacts. Big Bird, teaching children about grief or Stevie Wonder’s music inspiring Black South Africans in the days of Apartheid to continue their struggle for freedom – these are things that R.J. Cutler somehow knew would touch the hearts and minds of an audience, regardless of COVID19, will always be in need of inspiration and example. Personal letters written with sincere gratitude and love for the efforts of these icons are the most poignant and tactile examples that can happen.

Oh, and Apple TV, maybe I should also thank you for the wonderful array of inspirational figures in this series, that includes Oprah Winfrey, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jane Goodall and many other motivators in this world who, despite their own struggles in life, show us that life is not just about the now, it’s about what you can make in the future. Our now is not so great, but it won’t last forever and this too, shall pass as it passed for these exemplars.

My family has watched every single one of the first season episodes, becoming addicted to the various forms of positivity each one offers. Upon watching the episode with Big Bird, both of my children, who never knew Big Bird, immediately wanted to watch Sesame Street to see what they missed. That a 50 year-old puppet (animated by the legendary Carol Spinney, who we honour in his passing) should have such an effect on children in the second decade of the 21st century is not only a measure of the timelessness of the message , but of the resonance it has for children of a new generation. These are the leaders of tomorrow who need this eternal value to help guide them through the trials of a future that is tinged by the trials of today.

Big Bird. (Apple TV+)

In a world that needs comfort, your show has delivered. Trying to be an impartial journalist, I watched the entire first season of this series with my family; not only to evaluate the show for my own purposes but also to see the effect it would have upon them.

I was not prepared for the tears of empathy it caused. I think this will be the case with others who are in need of inspiration. At the moment, that fits the description of pretty much the rest of the world’s population. You see, my family has endured trauma – like a good deal of other people who will be watching. These people are primed and ready for the effect of positive action in the face of adversity. We tackled adversity with determination and resolve and the fuel for that fight is inspiration.


You see, the thing that really struck me about the individual stories of the people who were influenced by the works of these iconic notables is that they had hardships in their lives that they overcame with an event, or a decision – some singular action that they took that changed the direction of their lives. these people’s works were triggers for others in the world and that speaks to the power of creativity that can affect, influence or even inspire others to do good with their own talents. What a gift it is to have to be able to propel others to their own greatness.

Of course, not all of us will go on to create world-famous works of art, make significant advances in science or the humanities, but what we can do is influence the lives of others around us, in our own personal spheres of influence, like our neighbourhoods, our schools or our places of worship. That’s where most of us can have the greatest amount of effect, and if all of us were thinking like that, then this world might be a better place. At the very least, we’d be staying home a lot more and respecting each other’s distances.

Spike Lee. (Apple TV+)

With television and the internet being primary ways of interacting with the rest of the world in a thoroughly safe way, this is the type of message that needs to be out there.

Apple TV, it is a great thing that you have done by putting this show out but I hope that you will make it easily available to the other channels because the more people see this, the greater effect it will have on an audience that is hungering for this type of positivity. As a thought, please consider this request?

I hope this letter reaches you – not just in the level of admiration I have for the series but for the desire that it reaches a wider audience than just those who are Apple subscribers. I know this runs contrary to established commercial business models, but this is a series that the whole world needs to see because the need is so great.

Jane Goodall. (Apple TV+)

Teachers can use this to promote values that not only work in the classroom but are applicable for every aspect of students’ lives. Learning from those who have not only succeeded in their chosen walks of life but to show the effect their work has had on real people is a powerful learning instrument. What can be a better learning opportunity than to show the nobility of humanity at its most effective and real form?

This is a reminder of the powerful and effective force that popular culture wields. When harnessed with the right intentions and directed towards the best purposes, it can be a highly influential influence that truly makes the world a better place.

Your show debuts June 5th. I know it is available on Amazon, Roku, as well as various Apple TV devices, but this is something for the world to see at large. Would you consider that?

It’s an amazing show and I thank you for the uplifting effect it has had on my family. I hope it has that effect on other families, because I know it will.

About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.