The best TV of 2018 so far

Disappointing season of your favorite prestige drama got you down? Let down by the big sitcom revival that promised to open up a dialogue, but just wound up taking potshots at easy (and vulnerable) targets while setting up a runway for Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing over at Old Man Murdoch’s place? A thousand Netflix…

A quiet finale ends a successful first season of The Chi

After weeks of building momentum that seemed to be leading to a reckoning between The Chi’s sordid characters, “Ease On Down The Road” is a casual finale. There aren’t any shocks or twists, nearly everything happens as one would suspect. Ronnie turns himself in. Quentin avenges Jason’s death and we finally learn the…

The Chi sets up major conflicts as it heads into a promising finale

“Namaste Muthafucka” is a showcase of a lot of The Chi’s narrative problems in terms of pacing, but it gets a lot done. A lot of things are revealed, but none of it is particularly surprising. Tracy and Quentin’s horrific connection is revealed and it turns out Quentin is Jason’s father. This doesn’t really change…

The Chi successfully juggles tension and levity in a brilliant episode

Last week’s episode felt like the first time The Chi really knew what kind of show it wanted to be. The world within the show came into focus as Brandon, Emmett, Ronnie and Kevin were contained to one intersecting story. “Penetrate A Fraud” maintains that momentum and moves the show forward without overwhelming the…

“One of the good ones”: How The Chi explores a damning convention

The Chi’s setting may have struck a chord with the Chicago-based A.V. Club, but early glimpses indicated the show had something to offer viewers everywhere, including an exceptional cast led by Mudbound’s Jason Mitchell, and innovative directors like Rick Famuyiwa, who helmed the pilot. Then there was creator Lena…

The Chi is still unsure of what story it wants to tell in a dense fourth episode

Now that we’re four episodes into the season, there’s a clear pattern developing within The Chi: One small decision can ruin everything. Brandon gets kicked out of his house and now owes a favor to a drug dealer because he decided to help Kevin. Emmett is also in debt to another (maybe) drug dealer because he decided…

The Chi explores black masculinity through its central characters in a gripping second episode

In its pilot episode, The Chi missed a few opportunities to really dig into societal and cultural structures that make the Chicago violence presented in the show possible. “Alee,” the season’s second episode, is a marked improvement as its narrative structure moves beyond the pilot’s broad strokes and alludes to the…

Will The Chi be the first series to do Chicago right?

No city is a “character.” As much as creators like to elevate their stories by claiming a location, it’s just a clichéd attempt to make something sound important without earning it. Cities are complicated places, and nowhere is that more obvious than in Showtime’s new drama series, The Chi. As much as recent headlines…