The Chi is The Wire of 2018

Showtime’s new series The Chi opens with Coogie — a gorgeous kid with big hair, a pink headband, and a backpack covered in fuchsia flowers — biking around town listening to Chance the Rapper’s “All We Got.” He shoots some baskets. He bikes circles around a tough-looking motorcyclist at a red light. He even tries to race him. Director Rick Famuyiwa shoots this stuff like it’s lyric poetry; he also knows how to make us feel that innocent high wear off. When Coogie — played by Jahking Guillory — pulls off his headphones to negotiate with the proprietors of the “77th Mart” for snacks, we lose the music too. When he rides down an alley to feed beef jerky to a hungry dog that isn’t his, the realities of his life, and the forms of compensatory kindness he’s invented, snap into focus. And when — bidding the dog goodbye — he stumbles on a man lying on a street corner under a spreading pool of blood, we see Coogie’s gaze drift to his shoes, then his necklace, and then his face. He takes the shoes. He takes the necklace. And he runs.

It’s a compact sequence that perfectly illustrates the project of The Chi, which premieres Sunday. This is The Wire if you reverse the relationship between the residents and police. It puts the story before the anthropology, the people before the journalistic exposé, the banal before the sensational. Creator Lena Waithe — who won an Emmy for the exceptional “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None — has said she wanted to make a show about Chicago from “a very human and grounded and honest perspective” that “put some humanness behind the headlines.” The Chi offers exactly this: It examines, with interest and care, how kids and adults live and joke and get crushes and moon around, even (or especially) with violence slicing at the streets around them.

This is obviously something Moonlight did too. As if to drive home that parallel, The Chi’s most surprising subplot features Kevin, a kid trying out for the school play because his crush wants him to. Kevin is played by Alex Hibbert, the star of Moonlight’s first, most devastating act. Kevin’s winsome sullenness almost threatens to overshadow his much-older sister Keisha (Birgundi Baker, funnier in this role than she has any right to be). Keisha, meanwhile, is sneaking around with Emmett (Jacob Latimore), an

Source:: The Week – Entertainment

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