Chicago gets TV spotlight with new comedy, drama
LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A roundup of news Monday from the Television Critics Association winter meeting, at which TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.
TALES OF THE CITY
Chicago is grabbing the TV spotlight with two new series, the comedy "Superior Donuts" and the drama "The Chi."
The CBS sitcom, based on a Tracy Letts play, stars Judd Hirsch as a doughnut shop owner who refuses to change along with his gentrifying neighborhood. Jermaine Fowler plays the young employee who tries to help him modernize.
Showtime's "The Chi," announced Monday, is described as a timely coming-of-age story set in Chicago's South Side, with Jason Mitchell ("Straight Outta Compton") in the cast.
While the goal of "Superior Donuts" is to entertain, its producers said Monday, it will touch on urban problems.
"To extent we're going to look at cultural issues and issues in the news, it will be through the lens of the characters," said producer Garrett Donovan. One episode about guns will examine the effect a weapon has on the characters' lives, he said, instead of being a "political kind of thing."
"Although if we were to incite a tweet war with the president of the United States, we probably would not turn down the free publicity," said fellow producer Bob Daily.
The series, which debuts Feb. 2, also stars Katey Sagal as a Chicago police officer. In a clip, her character lightly tells Fowler's Franco, who is African-American, that he doesn't have to worry about her shooting him in the back because she's wearing a body camera.
Fowler, also a producer for the series, said it would be wrong to ignore the realities of race and other issues.
"You just can't. It would be a disservice to comedy. ... You can't gloss that over. Otherwise, it just kind of feels like a fake show to me," he said.
"The Chi" follows Brandon (Mitchell) as he tries to balance his business dreams with his ties to his mother and younger brother in his old neighborhood.
Showtime Networks chief executive David Nevins said the series will go beyond the sadness of the "constant drumbeat of violence in Chicago" to explores the lives of South Side residents.
Series creator and executive producer Lena Waithe is drawing on her experience growing up in Chicago, Nevins said. Common, another native of the city, also is serving as executive producer.
NBC has a trio of Chicago-set dramas.