Master of None’s breakout star tackles prestige TV.
Writer, actor, producer, and director Lena Waithe is on a roll. Earlier this year Waithe scored an Emmy for penning the beloved Netflix comedy, Master of None’s best episode, “Thanksgiving.” Now Waithe is taking all her talent and positive buzz and putting them towards her upcoming Showtime series, The Chi. And if The Chi’s trailer is any indication of what’s in store, I’ll have to slate yet another new TV series into my ever-expanding backlog.
Waithe, a creative Jack of all trades, is once again wearing multiple hats. She’s the series’ creator, writer, and co-executive producer along with legendary Chicago native and Grammy Award-winning rapper, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. — aka Common. Common also stars in the series alongside a top-notch cast. You can expect to see Jason Mitchell (Mudbound), Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (Queen of Katwe), Jacob Latimore (Sleight) Alex Hibbert (Moonlight) Yolanda Ross (The Get Down), and Tiffany Boone (The Following).
Waithe rides hard for her hometown and it shows in front of and behind the camera. Each of the season’s ten episodes are shot in Chicago and Chi-town native, Chance the Rapper’s rousing track, “All We Got” plays over the trailer. You can tell right away that the show’s producers are striving to deliver a sense of authenticity. Take a look.
The trailer crackles with energy, shows off the stacked cast, and doesn’t give much of the plot away. The trailer seesaws back and forth between heart-wrenching dramatic beats and moments of childlike whimsy. The show’s press release calls The Chi a coming-of-age story, but the trailer makes sure to reveal the multi-generational cast — I need to know the story behind the old-lady pointing a pump action shotty in a cop’s face.
You can bet that Waithe’s influence will be felt all over The Chi. We can expect her trademark hyper-specificity; reverence to the city, memorable (and flawed) characters, and plenty of emotional texture. The Chi’s 2018 launch feels too far off but at least I know I have something to look forward to during January’s long cold nights.
The Chi premieres on Showtime January 7th, 2018.
Here’s Showtime’s official synopsis:
On Chicago’s south side, an average day finds kids prepping for school as their parents head off to work, young adults trying to make a living, and the elders keeping an eye on things from their front porches. But in this tough neighborhood, real dangers threaten daily to squelch dreams, and the simplest decisions can have life or death consequences. The Chi is a powerful coming-of-age drama series about an interconnected group of working-class African-Americans who remind us that no matter what, the human spirit is strong and hope never dies.