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Nina Metz: Showtime's 'The Chi' had real potential, where did it go? What Chicago story is it telling as Season 4 ends?

Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

That last point is in reference to “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kandi Burruss, who joined the show as Douda’s wife, a character who has seemed pointless from the get-go.

“In all of the inconsistency,” Trina summed up, “the show still makes a point to remove all positive images of Black male role models. The show has lost its authenticity and its vibe.”

To her point, the kinds of stories “The Chi” originally set out to tell felt like a meaningful and entertaining counterweight to ignorant stereotypes about the South Side and what it means to be Black in Chicago — capturing the joys, the trauma, the boredom, all of it. But somewhere along the way, the show lost its focus.

Will and I keep watching because we’re curious about how the city is portrayed on TV, but also because the young teens of the show — Kevin, Jake and Papa — have always been a high point, even through this season’s chaos.

The acting on “The Chi” has always been strong across the board; these critiques aren’t about the cast but what they’ve been given to play with. Trans actor Jasmine Davis (a Chicago native) is a real discovery as the maternal Imani. And as I mentioned in our recap last week, the show has done some important things right by casting so many dark-skinned women and teenage girls. Colorism is pervasive in Hollywood and it tends to be gendered — reinforcing ideas that light-skinned women are more attractive — and “The Chi” hasn’t played into any of that.

 

Earlier this week, Showtime donated $500,000 toward neighborhood beautification projects on the South and West Sides. The cable network hasn’t made any announcements yet about the show’s possible renewal or cancellation. Maybe that donation suggests “The Chi” will be around for another season.

Or maybe it’s an informal goodbye and thank you to a city it’s ready to leave behind.

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