Review: Netflix's 'Colin In Black And White'

Colin in Black and White
Netflix's 'Colin in Black and White' (Image credit: Netflix)

The early life and career of National Football League quarterback and social activist Colin Kaepernick is chronicled in Netflix’s original series, Colin in Black And White.

Viewers may be surprised that the series doesn’t start with Colin Kaepernick as the Super Bowl starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, or Colin Kaepernick the social activist who has been ostracized from the league since 2016 after he began to take a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. Instead it looks at a young, high-school age Colin Kaepernick —- played impeccably by Jaden Michael — seeking out his identity while pursuing a career as an elite professional athlete.

The six-part miniseries links the experiences of a young Kaepernick — initially highly recruited as a baseball pitcher but with aspirations to be a pro quarterback — with present-day narration from Kaepernick himself, who seeks to put the events of his life into perspective. As part of that narrative, Colin in Black and White throughout the series cleverly weaves historical vignettes that often point back to the country’s sordid racial history into Kaepernick’s experiences as a young black man. Viewers get an early glimpse of Kaepernick and co-series creator Ava DuVernay’s clever and powerfully unfiltered point of view when the series likens the high-profile NFL Combine — where coaches evaluate every aspect of potential players — to slave auctions where Blacks were inhumanely objectified by White slave owners. 

Mary-Louise Parker and Nick Offerman play Kaepernick’s adoptive and very supportive parents who nevertheless aren’t prepared for and are often naïve to the misconceptions, prejudice and outward disrespect that Kaepernick faces as a young Black man growing up in a conservative, mostly White California suburb. 

Overall, Colin in Black And White is a unique series that at times may make its audience uncomfortable but more often than not endears viewers to the struggles, pitfalls and ultimate triumphs of a young Kaepernick. Whether you agree or disagree with Colin Kaepernick’s actions, Colin in Black and White is worth a look. 

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.