After winning an Emmy for co-writing Master of None’s beloved “Thanksgiving” episode, Lena Waithe’s star has been rising in Hollywood of late. Now, she’s stepping up to do something that needed to be done before long: a series focused on one of America’s most lied-about, misunderstood neighborhoods.
The Chi, Showtime’s newest series that Waithe wrote and co-produced, will follow an ensemble cast of residents on Chicago’s South Side, as they struggle through the trials of the neighborhood, their lives, their city, and their aspirations. The series will also feature Common (another producer on the series), Jason Mitchell (Mudbound), and Jacob Latimore, among its sprawling cast. Pitched as an honest take on the neighborhood, look for The Chi to address the realities of the area while also allowing something that all of the Chicago-based “everyday hero” dramas currently on the air tend to obscure.
An anecdote, but probably a relevant one: being that CoS calls Chicago its current home, our staff has seen the way in which so many others in the country today think of Chicago, and of the South Side in particular. It’s virtually impossible to tell an Uber driver in another city where you’re from without being met with raised eyebrows and questions in the vein of “wow, it’s a real nightmare there, isn’t it?” Chicago may be troubled, but there’s a strength and a humanity to every block of the city that isn’t celebrated often enough in popular culture. We’re hopeful that The Chi might be able to do just that, and judging by the show’s first trailer, Waithe’s series could shine a light where it’s not offered nearly often enough.
The Chi will premiere on Showtime on January 7th.