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“The Chi” a love letter to the South Side

Alex+Hibbert+as+Kevin+and+Jason+Mitchell+as+Brandon+in+%22The+Chi%22+%28Photo+courtesy+of+IMDB%29
Alex Hibbert as Kevin and Jason Mitchell as Brandon in

Alex Hibbert as Kevin and Jason Mitchell as Brandon in "The Chi" (Photo courtesy of IMDB)

Matt Dinerstein

Matt Dinerstein

Alex Hibbert as Kevin and Jason Mitchell as Brandon in "The Chi" (Photo courtesy of IMDB)

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“The Chi” depicts life on the South Side of Chicago as a tragic event intertwines the lives of the main characters. The show airs on Showtime on Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. and follows an ensemble cast as they live every different lives that are connected in some way.

In the premiere episode, nothing is shied away from. Within the first five minutes, there is a death as a direct result of gun violence, a topic frequently discussed regarding Chicago’s South Side. The creative forces behind this show made the conscious decision to provide an accurate depiction of life on the South Side rather than a picturesque one. Throughout the first episode, the ways in which each main character is connected slowly and masterfully weaves together and by the end, the world within “The Chi” is established.

The influence of the city and all that it offers is felt throughout the entire first episode as it opens with a song from hometown favorite Chance the Rapper and music from Chicago natives Noname and Chance’s younger brother Taylor Bennett.

Series creator Lena Waithe set out to portray Chicago in a way that it is rarely seen. She draws from her own personal experiences as someone born and raised on the South Side. Waithe broke records at the 2017 Emmy Awards as the first black woman to win for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for her work on “Master of None”.  Specifically, her contributions to an episode titled “Thanksgiving” that she based partially on her coming out to her mother gained praise from viewers and critics alike. A graduate from Columbia College Chicago, she is the voice behind “The Chi” and her influence shines through.

The cast consists of almost all black actors which is a stark contrast to the other Showtime show set in the city, “Shameless,”which revolves around a poor white family. This aspect alone sets “The Chi” apart and paints a more complete picture of what the South Side actually looks like. Alex Hibbert, the young actor that gained praise for his work in last year’s Best Picture winner “Moonlight” plays Kevin, the youngest and quite possibly the most integral member of the ensemble cast. He is supported by a slew of other immensely talented and relatively unknown actors.

There are more than five shows on television right now that are set in Chicago and all attempt to depict a different version of the reality of the city. “The Chi” stands apart from the bunch as the most truthful and dynamic portrayal of the lives of the people that live and die in Chicago.

Although it is rather unfortunate that you have to have a Showtime subscription to watch the show, it is well worth the money. On all fronts, “The Chi” is both a reflection of life in the city and an homage to the South Side.

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“The Chi” a love letter to the South Side