“But what about Chicago?” – A conservative person’s go to deflective response when faced with almost any question regarding racial and socioeconomic issues in America. Showtime’s newest show ‘The Chi’ answers that question perfectly. Over the past few years, Chicago has earned a reputation as an extremely violent city with absurdly high murder rates and gun violence numbers that shadow many of America’s most violent cities.
In the minds of most Americans, the statistics are just an inconvenient blot on the reputation of one America’s most beautiful cities. A bunch of young black people killing a bunch of young black people that is of little concern to most members of mainstream America. In fact the only time it matters is a when a certain three letter phrase is blurted out when another black life is taken unjustly at the hands of an American police department.
“Well if black lives really mattered, how do you explain what’s going on Chicago?” people flippantly ask. It’s a tongue in cheek response and a weak attempt at gaining an upper hand in a political debate. Truth is anybody that really cares about what’s really going on in Chicago, isn’t asking this. It’s the people that don’t even see the lives lost in south and west Chicago on the daily as actual lives. Just inconvenient statistics.
Enter writer/actress Lena Waithe who first gained notoriety on the show ”Master of None’ which garnered the Chicago bred writer an Emmy Award for Best Writer On A Comedy Series. Now she has shifted gears and put together a show that serves as a dramatized explanation of “What’s going on in Chicago.”
‘The Chi’ serves to humanize the dire situation of Chicago. It’s not just the wild wild Midwest, filled with a bunch of gun slinging, trigger happy, flesh hungry human bounty killers. Each body is a life. Each life has a story that radiates and affects other lives. There is a vicious cycle in the streets of Chicago and there are many stories. In order to understand these stories we must first understand the characters.
‘The Chi’ is the story of Chicago. It provides a facial identity to a dire and complex set of social problems. Written by Waithe and produced by Rashid ‘Common’ Lynn, the show boasts a talented cast (Jason Mitchell, Jacob Lattimore, Ntare Mwine, Sonja Sohn) that has all the feels of a Modern day, Windy City ‘The Wire’. If the pilot episode is any indication of what’s to come, television just got it’s next great urban drama that looks to transcend well beyond an urban demographic. This is a story that needs to be told, and if told right can provide much needed insight and perspective of an American epidemic.
The show makes it television debut January 8th on Showtime. Check out the pilot episode below via YouTube: