By now you’ve probably heard about Showtimes new series The Chi, but may not know exactly what it’s about (besides Chicago) and why you need to watch. Here’s a quick breakdown.
The Chi is a coming-of-age drama about a group of working-class African-Americans on Chicago’s volatile south side. The show will inevitably draw comparisons to “The Wire,” yet this richly detailed look at intersecting paths, cutting across generations, quickly carves its own niche, one where tragedy begets tragedy, and vengeance comes with consequences. The series consciously seeks to put faces on statistics, in a humanizing and at times heartbreaking way.
Lena Waithe, who broke ground as the first African-American woman to win a comedy writing Emmy for “Master of None,” has created The Chi. Waithe’s identity intersects multiple marginalized groups: female, black and gay, making this project (and her role in it) so important and empowering. Not to mention she’s one of the most buzzed about creatives in Hollywood right now with a track record of great work like Dear White People and Hello Cupid.
Also serving as executive producer on the show is rapper/actor and fellow Chicago native Common. “The music really became a character because Chicago has a lot of incredible musicians like Chance the Rapper and Kanye West,” he told Variety at the show’s Wednesday premiere. “As much as the city is a character and how we have the characters written, the music is [also] part of the journey of the show and getting a feel of what Chicago is.”
This ensemble cast includes some of the best and brightest talent in Hollywood right now including Straight Outta Compton‘s Jason Mitchell, Alex Hibbert (Moonlight), Jacob Latimore (Detroit), Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (Queen of Katwe), Yolonda Ross (The Get Down) and more.
With so much talk about diversity in Hollywood and the need for programming showcasing people of color, The Chi couldn’t come at at a better time. The Showtime series also sheds a light on real life socio-economics topics like racism and police-brutality that are plaguing so many inner cities including Chicago across the country.
Bottom line – If you’re tired of all the reality programming shedding African Americans in a bad light, loved “Shots Fired” and “The Wire”, “The Chi” is for you.
The Chi comes to Showtime Jan. 7, 2018.
(Photos by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)