Showtime’s new original series “The Chi” has the potential to become one of television’s premier dramas. Lena Waithe, a Chicagoan who became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy in September 2017 for outstanding writing, created “The Chi.” Waithe’s program features an ensemble cast and offers a gritty, authentic and sobering portrayal of the hardships that residents of the South Side of Chicago encounter on a daily basis. “The Chi,” filmed on location in this violence-plagued section, humanizes its characters and allows viewers to understand how economic circumstances, politics and various complexities shape their lives.
Waithe’s premise revolves around a fatal, gang-related drive-by shooting that coincidentally, and tragically, connects her characters. “The Chi,” with “L” trains constantly roaring overhead and a dazzling soundtrack, brilliantly demonstrates how the smallest, everyday decisions can lead to dire consequences. Waithe also expertly depicts the countless institutional failures that produced a city notorious for its bloodshed and low-income neighborhoods. For reference, according to data released earlier this week, Chicago exceeded 600 homicides in 2017. Therefore, for the second consecutive year, Chicago registered more slayings than New York City and Los Angeles combined.
Chicago is a troubled metropolis and Waithe used her first-hand experiences residing there to put this grim reality on the screen. Of equal importance, Waithe established flawed, strong, captivating and maddening personalities that shine in the Windy City’s darkness.
“The Chi” debuts on Sunday at 9 p.m. CST.