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The Chi

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Chi TV Poster Image
Well-written South Chicago-themed drama isn't for kids.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Life on Chicago's south side is difficult. Racism, poverty, other social ills are themes. Community is important. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are flawed; some do what they have to do to survive, others want to make profit. A few are trying to create better futures for themselves. 


Yelling, arguing, shootings, murders. Some bloody images. 


Nudity; sexual innuendo, some simulated activity. 


Lots of cursing including "f--k" and "s--t"; frequent use of the "N" word.  


Sports sneakers visible (but logos not prominent). Brands like Clarks, Timberland, others referenced. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking (beer, hard liquor); drug use and dealing a theme.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Chi is a Chicago-set series about a group of neighbors living on the South Side. It deals with urban violence, and as such contains shootings, gang activity, and images of dead bodies. It also contains strong sexual innuendo, nudity, lots of cursing (and the use of the "N" word), and drinking. Drug use (marijuana) is visible, and drug dealing is a theme. Sneaker brands are sometimes referenced. Mature, older teens should be able to handle it, but it's not meant for kids. 

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What's the story?

Created by Master of None's Lena Waithe, THE CHI is a dramatic series about a group of residents living on Chicago's South Side. After the nighttime shooting of a young man, what transpires connects the lives of Emmett (Jacob Latimore), a young father of three who lives with mom Jada (Yolonda Ross); young Kevin (Alex R. Hibbert), a nice kid trying to survive his tough surroundings; Ronnie (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine), a perpetually unemployed man with a broken heart; and Brandon (Jason Mitchell), a man working hard to improve himself and build a restaurant career with his girlfriend, Jerrika (Tiffany Boone). They each struggle with their individual personal relationships and challenges, all of which are impacted by the poverty, gang violence, and illegal activity taking place in their neighborhoods daily. Meanwhile, South Side law enforcement officers like Detective Cruz (Armando Riesco) wrestle with the residents' distrust of the police while trying to work with them to stop the bloodshed.   

Is it any good?

Edgy and complicated, this series presents a character-driven story that highlights the realities of living in Chicago's South Side. It has a large ensemble cast, but the main characters reveal themselves to be well-rounded and complex as they fight their individual inner demons while collectively grappling with cyclical violence, poverty, and institutional racism. 

It’s well-written, but some folks may find the beginning a little hard to follow thanks to the sheer number of characters and plotlines. But everything becomes more focused as the overall story moves forward and the characters' lives become more interconnected. If you're looking for good, solid drama to commit to, The Chi has a lot to offer. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the social problems urban neighborhoods must often face. Why do certain parts of cities seem more prone to violence and illegal activity than others? 

  • Does The Chi offer an accurate portrayal of what life on Chicago's South Side is like? If so, what has to happen in order to make life there less dangerous?

TV details

For kids who love drama

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