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Review: ‘The Chi’ Returns For Its Second Season

After what felt like too long of a hiatus The Chi has returned to Showtime and does not fail to disappoint.  With unexpected twists and turns and the deepening of relationships between our favorite characters, The Chi reminds of us why we fell in love with the brainchild of the phenomenal Lena Waithe.  Despite being halfway into the season we are still unsure where Emmett, Kev, Brandon, and the others we have become fond of will land, taking us through a sometimes scary but always exciting journey.  One of the most rewarding aspects of the season thus far is watching the personal and professional growth of our protagonists and the strengthening of bonds between seemingly superficial acquaintances. True to form, it also presents external and internal questions that challenge our sense of right, wrong, forgiveness and redemption.  Here are some of what I find to be the most dynamic questions being explored.

  1. Can Jerika and Brandon’s relationship overcome the difficulties brought on by class differences?

Last season, we witnessed the contrast in personalities and ideologies between the couple mainly through watching Jerika’s interaction with Brandon’s family.  This time around, we see a blazer adorned Brandon uncomfortably navigating his strenuous relationship with Jerrika’s upper middle-class family and their friends at an outdoor fundraiser.  It is evident that they do not approve of him as their daughter’s boyfriend. However, when Brandon steps in to help his friend who is catering the event, Jerrika, concerned with the optics in regard to her budding realty career, asks him to not look like “the help.”  He is constantly asked to endure judgment and classist micro-aggressions from her friends. One can’t help but wonder if over time these concessions will multiply to the point where they will cause a permanent rift between the young couple.

  1. Can we forgive Ronnie?

After confessing to the murder of Coogie, Ronnie, manages to secure a lawyer referred to as The Wolf who wiggles him out of rightful murder charges.  Ronnie, who turned himself in for his crime, ready to pay the price, changes his tune once he hears about the brutal beating of his grandmother that put her in the ICU.  Due to technicalities, Ronnie is set free and the charges are dropped but that doesn’t stop the piercing stares of judgement and disgust from members of the neighborhood.  One mother, who knows the pain of losing a child to gun violence, spits in his face. Ronnie is taken under the wing of Common, seemingly the head of a local mosque. We learn that he too has killed a child and has found forgiveness from the community through transforming himself and his life and being of service to others.  But can we as viewers, who not only know he killed a child, but bore witness to the murder, forgive him? Does forgiveness stop at child murder? Are we now unable to forgive him because he is no longer paying the consequences for his actions? Does the fact that he pushed to get out of jail to take care of his brutally beaten grandmother make it easier to forgive?  Is the newfound information about him being the lovechild of the surly man across the street make us more sympathetic towards him?

  1. Is Emmett’s growth the real deal?

After being fired from her nursing job for stealing supplies to help Ronnie on behalf of her patient Ms. Ethel, Jada is forced to downsize.  In doing so, she attempts to teach her promiscuous son, Emmett, a lesson. Thus, Emmett lands at his estranged father’s house sleeping on the couch amongst his many other children and enduring his strict rules. He eventually ends up sleeping in Brandon’s food truck, where he has secured employment.  Not only that, he is forced to face his responsibilities as he is confronted by his baby mothers who demand that he be a better father and do more. It appears that Jada’s tough love is pushing Emmett to become more mature; the question is, will it last?  Will Emmett succumb to his usual playboy ways or will he continue to grow into his admirable hustler identity?

MJ VanDevere

MJ VanDevere is a doctoral candidate at a predominately white elite institution in the South who uses humor to combat racism, sexism, and all the other –isms that seek to diminish her greatness. She is a self-proclaimed “stand-up snob” who does not have a favorite comedian, so please don't ask unless you have several hours to spare. Some of her favorite movies include, Life, Dead Presidents, and Happy Feet. If, she could only do one thing for the rest of her life, it would definitely be laugh, and maybe write. Adulting is her greatest work in progress.

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