The Chi premieres January 7th, 10pm on Showtime.
By Ariba Bhuvad
After her critically acclaimed success in Master of None, it appears Lena Waithe has done it once again. As a Chicago native, she has paid homage to her hometown in the shape of her new project, Showtime’s The Chi. Not only as the creator, but as the writer and executive producer (alongside Common) of this new drama series illustrating the life on the South side of Chicago.
With the release of its series premiere ahead of the official date in January, The Chi brought forth a realism and truth to this world, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Yes, a great many shows have dove into the poverty-stricken, crime-ridden parts of the United States, but there is something unique and raw about The Chi that sets it apart from the others. Set in the backdrop of the tumultuous south side, The Chi’s series premiere sets the stage for what is sure to be one hell of a first season. The story opened to a frame of a kid shot dead, and another, Coogie, stumbling across his body. Taking advantage of the body that lay in front of him, Coogie took anything of value from it and ran. Inevitably, this action played as the catalyst for the rest of the episode and the upcoming season, intertwining stories and connecting the characters.
One thing The Chi executed beautifully was presenting the story in a way that wasn’t overdone, and subtle in its drama and suspense, while still keeping the viewer engaged and invested in the story. This feat is not accomplished easily, especially in a pilot, but Waithe managed to make it work. There is something to be said about the raw, powerful storyline that has been set in the series premiere, unapologetically revealing complicated layers to a part of Chicago many are unaware of. As we witnessed each character face their unique dilemmas and the reality of the world they live in, it was an eye-opening revelation to just how intense this world is. And while we’ve seen shows explore these circumstances before, The Chi does so in a way that makes us a part of the story, rather than just outsiders watching it happen. From the powerful soundtrack to the phenomenal acting to the dramatic plot, The Chi is a show that is absolutely going to make its mark in 2018, so don’t miss it!
I give The Chi an A-.