TV Reviews

Why you should be watching Showtime’s The Chi

I’ve lived in the Chicago area my entire life, and I’ll admit I live in a cozy suburban bubble. So imagine my shock when I turned on the Chi, and saw a depiction of how life is a mere 15 miles away from me. To say it was shocking is an understatement.

The Chi takes place on Chicago’s South Side. For those of you not from Chicago, it’s a tough part of town.  Brutally tough. Obviously I don’t know how accurate the depiction of life there is, but I have to tell you that the storytelling and cinematography from this show paint quite a picture.

The story follows four very different people.

Brandon is a line cook at a restaurant in the city (or downtown to those not from the Chi) who came out of the south side with a good head on his shoulders. His younger brother, Coogie, lives with his and Brandon’s alcoholic mother and pretty much runs the streets all day and night.  Brandon has a nice apartment with his girlfriend, Jerrika, who is a real estate agent.

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Kevin is an tween dealing with school and crushes. Kevin witnesses something that sends his life into a paranoid mess. But man do I love this kid – he has incredible street smarts for a kid his age.

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Emmett is a man probably in his late teens who sells stolen tennis shoes and works at a restaurant. Emmett likes to screw without protection and has fathered three children. When the youngest baby mama gets pissed and dumps the baby on Emmett’s lap, he’s forced to quickly grow up, and without his mother’s help.

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Ronnie is an older gentleman, in his 50’s likely. He doesn’t work and sits in his front yard with two of his friends most of the day. His grandmother tells him he’s worthless and should get a job. Ronnie was married to Tracy and was a stepfather to Jason, who is murdered in the first episode. Jason’s murder is the key that brings these four characters together in an incredibly interesting way.

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What’s so interesting about this show is how believable it is. I was watching last night and the 45 minutes it took for the episode flew by. There is an incredible supporting cast, especially the younger kids who are Kevin’s age. The biggest thing that compels me to this show is that I care for the characters – even Ronnie, who is kind of a loser, and Emmett, who is kind of lost. Brandon seems put together, but is dealing with some issues from his past. It’s so good.

I would highly recommend this show. It’s airs at 9 pm central on Showtime and is available on demand.

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