The first look at upcoming Showtime series The Chi has arrived, teasing the interlocking stories that will make up the Chicago-set story. When the first season of Master of None arrived on Netflix, it was hailed by critics and viewers. Blending Aziz Ansari’s stand-up voice and Alan Yang’s work on Parks & Recreation, the series only grew more ambitious in its second season this year – as it experimented with narrative formats and tackled subjects rarely covered on TV. It also proved to be an incubator for up-and-coming talent.
Chief among those voices is Lena Waithe. After playing the character Dee in season 1, Waithe joined Ansari in crafting the season 2 episode ‘Thanksgiving,’ which used the holiday to explore Dee’s coming out to her family over the years. It was a powerful episode, thanks in part to drawing from Waithe’s real-life experiences. The entry was so well-received in fact, it won an Emmy for Best Comedy Writing, making Waithe the first black woman to ever win in the category. Now, she’s set to tell another story from inspired by her youth.
Showtime has now released the first trailer for The Chi, a series premiering in January that Waithe created. She’ll serve as an executive producer alongside Common, Elwood Reid (The Bridge), and Aaron Kaplan, with Reid acting as showrunner. The series will star Jason Mitchell, who first made a name for himself in Straight Outta Compton. Since then, he’s had roles in Kong: Skull Island, Detroit, and will next appear in Mudbound on Netflix. He will be joined by Yolonda Ross (The Get Down), Armando Riesco (Bull), Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (Queen of Katwe), Jacob Latimore (Sleight), Tiffany Boone (The Following), and Alex Hibbert (Moonlight). You can check out the show’s official description below:
Kevin (Hibbert) is the pre-teen who must step past shattered illusions and embrace the normal rites of childhood, while Brandon (Mitchell) the dreamer makes his own nearly impossible leap of faith to succeed in life and love with girlfriend Jerrika (Boone). Emmett (Latimore) is the carefree teen is thrust into complex responsibility with guidance from his mother Jada (Ross), and Ronnie (Mwine) is the drifter whose struggle to love and be loved calls into question his every pursuit. Sonja Sohn, Jahking Guillory, and Steven Williams recur.
The series will weave together the various stories of the main characters, highlighting Chicago in the ways Donald Glover has with Atlanta and David Simon did with Baltimore on The Wire. The series will also benefit from director Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), who was brought aboard the show after the original pilot was rewritten. Given his work, the series should be a good hands, as it tells a coming-of-age story in the big city. Although The Chi was picked up earlier this year before Waithe’s Emmy win, her raised profile should certainly help the project.
Between Waithe, Common, Mitchell, and Famuyiwa, The Chi certainly has quite the pedigree heading into its debut season. And if the series can channel Master of None, Atlanta, and Dope, it’s not hard to imagine Waithe netting herself another Emmy win next year.
The Chi season 1 premieres January 7, 2018 at 10pm on Showtime.
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