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CULTURE

New TV Series, “The Chi”, To Tackle The Complexity That Is Chicago

The Chi
Cast photo of the Showtime original series THE CHI. Photo: Mathieu Young/SHOWTIME Pictured (clockwise from top left): Yolonda Ross as Jada, Tiffany Boone as Jerrika, Jason Mitchell as Brandon, Armando Riesco as Detective Cruz, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine as Ronnie, Alex Hibbert as Kevin and Jacob Latimore as Emmett

The Chi is a new drama series seeking to penetrate the rhetoric surrounding one of the most politicized cities in America.

Chicago, a city well-known for its stark contrast between rich and poor, white and black, has become a frequent target by politicians seeking to rationalize the marginalization of minorities through crime and poverty statistics.

The Chi, created by Chicago native Lena Waithe, debuted on Showtime on January 7. Waithe made history last fall as the first black woman to win the Emmy for best writing for a comedy series, for her work on the Netflix series Master of None, but this will be her first foray as creator of her own series.

Based on her own upbringing in Chicago’s South Side, Waithe has pointedly stated that it will address the many heavy issues and realities of her hometown, while shedding light on the nuances and motivations behind the people she grew up with and who still live there.

Although violence and crime will be an integral theme, so will love and professional ambition. The series started off with the gun-afflicted murder of a young athlete, and its effects on his community.

This community includes Brandon (played by Jason Mitchell, from the recent Netflix film Mudbound), an aspiring cook with a girlfriend (Tiffany Boone) from a better background.

Emmett (Jacob Latimore), is a young man whose life revolves around sex and sneakers who suddenly finds himself a father to a newborn baby. Kevin (Alex Hibbert, of last year’s Oscar-winning Moonlight), is a middle-school kid who signs up to audition for a play to impress a classmate he’s smitten with; and Ronnie (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine), is an aimless type who helped raise the boy whose death starts off the series, and must deal with its aftermath.

With its multi-generational cast and portrayal of a distinct geographic region, comparisons have been made to the HBO series Treme, which also explored the individual stories behind the heady reputation of an American locale—as well as The Wire, for its gritty take on inner-city life.

The Chi airs on Showtime, Sundays at 10 PM Eastern/Pacific time.

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