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‘The Chair’ Review: A Humorous Commentary on the World of Academia

Sandra Oh, Nana Mensah, and Holland Tyler on The Chair. Photo Credit: Netflix

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An entire show focused on a dilapidating university English department had the very real potential of being extremely boring and niche with its heavy ode to literature. However, Netflix’s original series The Chair, starring the fabulous Sandra Oh, is a humorous commentary on the world of academia, cancel culture, ageism, sexism, and transracial adoption.

The bulk of the humor rests on the shoulders of Ji-Yoon (Oh) and Joan (Holland Taylor) the only women in the department alongside Yaz (Nana Mensah). Ji-Yoon is the first woman department head to take the position just as enrollment is crumbling by 30%.

What’s meant to be a momentous moment in her career turns into a shit show when she’s tasked with putting out daily dumpster fires.

In the short six episodes, we’re quickly introduced to the complicated lives of Ji-Yoon and her colleague/lover Bill Dobson, one of the younger professors who’s under intense scrutiny for making an insensitive and ignorant reference to nazis.

The Chair Humorously Comments

Sandra Oh on The Chair. Photo Credit: Netflix

There’s a strong balance between personal and professional lives as the underlying tension displayed immediately between Bill and Ji-Yoon ignites a budding romance, amid the dean’s increasing pressure for Ji-Yoon to let Bill go.

Ji-Yoon’s a powerful woman who isn’t afraid to stand up against university systems that oppress women and women of color. And despite her ability to properly handle her work life, her home life seems to be teetering.

Her daughter Juju is a spitfire who is ready to speak her mind at any moment. Whether to diss her halbi, cross personal boundaries scaring off babysitters, and telling Ji-Yoon how she feels about her transracial adoption.

The real dynamic duo is Juju and Bill. As Bill’s healing from the loss of his wife and empty-nesting after sending his daughter off to college, he finds comfort in taking care of Juju while he’s on suspension.

The Chair Review

Ji-Yoon and Dobson on The Chair. Photo Credit: Netflix

Juju’s lack of connection with Ji-Yoon is saddening, as it stems from Ji-Yoon’s absence due to her tireless job. However, by the end of the season, the growth between mom and daughter is emotionally beautiful.

Yes, I shed a few tears.

The decision to use an English department as a commentary vessel is ingenious. Historically, academia is full of jaded tenured professors who are generationally out of touch. But, an English department is stereotypically overrun with crotchety old pretentious men.

Some of whom are definitely ready for retirement.

Yaz is a Black professor whose class has quickly become the most popular in the English department. With her classes yielding the most students, this causes jealousy among the other educators, putting her tenure track in harm’s way.

The Chair Review

Ji-Yoon and her daughter on The Chair. Photo Credit: Netflix

When she’s denied the distinguished lectureship and begins to feel helpless as a woman of color at Pembroke, she considers taking an offer from Yale. However, Ji-Yoon’s desperation to rebuild the department full of diverse women convinces Yaz to stay.

Yaz’s character doesn’t receive as much screentime as she deserves. Most of the attention is placed on Dobs and the rest of the professors fighting desperately to hold onto their power.

Furthering the theme of sexism, Joan’s office is displaced in the basement underneath the gym. As a professor who’s been with the university just as long as her male counterparts, she finds her situation outrageous and greatly sexist.

Yet, by the season finale, after Ji-Yoon’s been ousted as the head of the department, she strategically chooses Joan to replace her. This feels like a win for the women and especially Ji-Yoon, as her vision of change continues.

While there hasn’t been any official word about a second season, Season 1 paved the path for deeper topics to be pursued. Especially the romance between Ji-Yoon and Bill. So I can’t imagine the show won’t receive another green light.

If you’re someone who shutters at the idea of being immersed in the academic sphere even fictionally, don’t worry. The Chair is a show you can enjoy on the pure basis of humor and emotional family drama. And of course Sandra Oh!

21 Underrated TV Shows You Need to Watch

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Inga is an avid TV watcher and critic, focusing a majority of her articles around LGBTQ+ representation in the media.

Editorials

Chicago Med Season 9 Episode 6 Review – I Told Myself That I was Done With You” Episode

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Chicago Med Season 9 Episode 6 Review - I Told Myself That I was Done With You" Episode

Chicago Med zeroed in on some personal situations for the doctors working in the ED, including Ripley (hey, Rip!), who treated an old friend from his past life, and Sharon, who was forced to come to terms with Bert’s diagnosis. 

Ripley’s past continues to haunt him, but it’s actually illuminating for audiences who are trying to get to know him on a deeper level. I feel like I know more about him than some of the other docs who have been here for years. When a drunk man waltzed into the emergency room, Ripley didn’t expect to have a run-in with an old friend he used to hit the streets with. However, while treating his friend, he also found the beginning signs of lung cancer, which was a diagnosis that he didn’t take too lightly. When Ripley pressed him to seek out treatment, things got tense, and a fight broke out in the ED, with Ripley’s impulsive behavior rearing its head. Eventually, Dr. Charles, without casting judgment, came to save the day, informing Ripley that his friend didn’t need a doctor in a white coat but rather a friend to look out for him. He wasn’t ready to accept his diagnosis now, but hopefully, after feeling supported, he’ll come around and get the necessary treatment. 

Zola is still finding her footing at Med, but what we’re seeing is that it’s not necessarily a bad thing because she feels strongly and passionately about taking down the corrupt system around her and fighting for her patients. She’s been told that jumping headfirst is a bad thing, but acting on instinct has proven to be beneficial, even if it does seem reckless at first. She’s prioritized her patients at every turn, she’s confident in the diagnosis she makes, and she saves lives, despite some unconventional methods. When the drug that she recommended was finally shelved, she viewed it as a win until Archer tore her up about it because it was replaced with a very expensive drug that would burden patients. It’s an odd approach considering a doctor should be happy if a drug that’s harming people or has adverse effects is taken off the market, right? Archer also didn’t stop to think about the consequences of his actions—bashing Zola and making her feel like she can’t trust her gut in situations where she’s seeing things clearly. It’s a skill to have. But her tenacity proved even more useful when she did a little more research and found the person who helped pull the drug was working for a company that produced the pricier one—thus piecing together that it was a sweetheart deal. It’s not exactly illegal, but being as perceptive as Zola is can be really useful to the hospital. 

Also, the chemistry between her and Crockett is getting heavier and heavier, especially as he begins to realize how much of an asset she is. Let’s get this romance going! 

Archer and Maggie teamed up amid Hannah Asher’s absence, and while he can rub people the wrong way, his advice about not holding on to a reality that didn’t exist anymore was crucial in helping Maggie move on from her divorce. She was avoiding going home and confronting the fact that Ben was gone, but it was necessary for her to move into the next phase of her life. Maggie was also inspired by a patient, who she helped convince to get her son a needed surgery so that they could both move into a more promising future together. It was sweet how the writers connected their stories—although they were so different, they both learned a great deal from each other.

And finally, Sharon Goodwin learned the truth about Bert’s diagnosis, and it was as everyone feared—he had Alzheimer’s dementia. The news is always difficult for everyone affected, from the patient all the way to his family, who will now be responsible for taking on the care. In this case, the burden was going to fall on Sharon, even though she was his ex-wife, and she knew it would take a toll on her personal life. Trying to navigate a new relationship while getting pulled into an old one is tough, but hopefully, her new partner will understand that this is something she has to do for her former spouse. The good news is that she has Charles, who has a history with Bert, and will be a good source of support as not only a friend but a therapist. This is going to be a long road for Sharon, but hopefully, a storyline that brings more awareness to the heartbreaking disease. 

What did you think of this week’s Chicago Med?

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Death and Other Details

Who Is Viktor Sams on ‘Death and Other Details’?

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Who Is Viktor Sams on 'Death and Other Details'?

Who Is Viktor Sams? As the headline on this post reads, it’s the questions on everyone’s lips as we enter the middle half aboard Hulu’s luxury yacht murder mystery—but saying his name is likened to that of Voldemort’s. Anyone who utters “he who shall not be named’s” name finds themselves six feet under… or with their high-tech car malfunctioning and driving off of a cliff.

Viktor Sams, the man said to be behind the murder of Imogene’s (Violett Beane) mother, is said to be everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. He’s also the man said to be responsible for the death of Keith Trubitsky/Danny, and the one who instills all too much fear in Anna Collier’s wife, Leila (she’s the only one who has ever gotten so close to figuring it out, so how she’s still breathing is beyond me), and the one who ruined her informant’s whole life, making him go from a respected federal employee to nothing more than a “sick freak.” 

He’s also the man that Rufus Cotsworth (Mandy Patinkin), along with the late Danny, spent 18 long years searching for without the slightest trace. The man, as it stands, is untouchable. And he might not be a man at all. 

The latest episode, Death and Other Details Season 1 Episode 5, seems to hint at the possibility that Viktor Sams is an AI, which is very timely but takes the fun out of the whole murder mystery. Is it possible Viktor Sams is the name of the program that’s being run and keeping tabs on everyone?

But even then, someone has to be responsible for the murders, unless the AI works in such a way that it blackmails those around him (dubbed his followers) until they do what he needs them to do. And, in that case, maybe Winnie did really murder Keith as she followed Viktor Sams’s directions to protect her sister’s dominatrix secret. And it’s possible that Llewellyn (Jere Burns) carried out Imogen’s mother’s killing at the request of the AI. But who is behind it?

Of course, when it comes to human suspects, it’s not looking too hot for Sunil (Rahul Kohli) right now as the murderer’s liar (which revealed only a blue light emitting from within—possibly where the Captionem Blue was stored?)—is on his dream ship. Not only that, but he’s the one who knew about the Captionem Blue after going through the Colliers documents and coincidentally knew someone who could help Imogene track down more information about the shipment (and Imogene just handed over the document—her only shred of evidence against her mom’s killer–to this mystery woman). Doesn’t all of that just seem super suspect? Not to mention his ship was charted by the Collier family, so it’s unclear how deep his connection to them really is, but maybe he’s holding this Captionem Blue secret over them and just demanding payment to keep quiet. He’s also pretty skilled with technology, which would be required with all the surveillance necessary. 

Maybe he’s not the man he says he is—and he’s simply gained Imogene’s trust so that he isn’t one of her suspects? Working in his favor is the fact that he was being followed along with Imogene, and the man could’ve been one of Viktor Sams’ goons (or he’s someone Sunil hired to keep Imogene’s suspicions off of him), and that he’s quite young for someone who orchestrated a whole hit on Imogene’s mother. The “why,” in general, is just a bit shaky, but extortion and blackmail seem to be a common trend. 

  Viktor Sams is also someone who’s very well connected, and there’s only one person aboard this ship who matches that description—Father Toby (Danny Johnson)—who has so much pull when it comes to Alexandra’s (Tamberla Perry) donors. However, if Viktor Sams is tech-savvy, it boils down to Toby’s son, That Derek (Sincere Wilbert), who has full access to the ship. He’s also a little young to be the suspect, but you can’t count anyone out. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Celia Chun was responsible considering she’s not above a little blackmail.

There are also characters we’ve yet to meet, including Charlie, the trustee of the Collier Trust. Not to mention Alexandra is being blackmailed with a sex tape, which has prompted her to dig up all the dirt she has on the Colliers, which could be the work of Viktor Sams or someone in cahoots with the Chuns. They now own a majority stake in Collier Mills, and if something wicked comes to light, it would only work to their advantage. Celia is also the person who knows about Toby’s affair with Lawrence’s wife, which could also work to her benefit. If Alexandra survives until the next episode (she’s awfully sick and stumbling, which could point to poisoning), she may be the person who takes down the Colliers, an already crumbling dynasty. 

Hilde (Linda Edmond), the Interpol agent, also took a very drastic turn as she loosened up after feeling confident that they found the murderer and accepted Llewellyn’s flirtatious invitation to punish him. Could she be Viktor Sams, who hopped aboard to steer the investigation in her favor?  No one ever said Viktor Sams had to be a man, right?

And on that note, if Viktor Sams is a woman and someone who has their control room on the ship year-round, then it’s very much giving Teddy (Angela Zhou) vibes. She’s part of the trusted inner circle now, she has full access to the ship, and she seems to be very good at hiding secrets—plus she harbors a connection to both the Collier and Chun families. 

Not much is clear about Viktor Sams at this point as the investigation takes so many turns (likely purposeful in hopes of confusing the audience), but whatever or whoever it is, it or he/she/they are stopping at nothing until they get what they want and shut everyone up who might even reveal a smidge of their identity.

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Pretty Little Liars

8 Murder Mystery TV Shows to Watch and Solve

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8 Murder Mystery TV Shows to Watch and Solve

Do you fancy yourself a little crime sleuth? Well, throw on your trench coat, grab your magnifying glass, and set out to solve the biggest murder mysteries to hit networks and streaming services!

The murder mystery genre, while always popular, has been skyrocketing in recent years, with plenty of new TV shows and movies to capture the thrills and chills. 

There’s nothing like a whodunnit to get you through the day and keep you on your toes. But while some classics date as far back as the 1985 Clue movie or all the Agatha Christie novels now getting new life as films (Murder on the Orient Express or A Haunting in Venice, for example), others, like Knives Out and Glass Onion have revitalized the genre and gave us some of the most captivating shows. 

There’s no shortage of content for mystery enthusiasts to enjoy—but here’s 8 of our favorites! 

 

High Seas – Netflix (3 seasons)

Netflix allows audiences to dive into the world of suspense on the high seas with its Spanish mystery series set on a luxury cruise ship in the 1940s. A web of love, deceit, and, of course, a string of murders will keep you on your toes as two sisters investigate all passengers onboard and try to piece the clues—and plot twists—together. 

 

Nancy Drew – The CW (4 seasons) 

Who killed Lucy Sable? That’s the question on everyone’s lips as Nancy Drew kicks off its first season with Kennedy McMann taking on the iconic role of the teenage detective. As the seasons continue, she and her Drew Crew become the lifeline to solving crimes in the mystical small town of Horseshoe Bay (much to the dismay of local officials). The intrigue is elevated with supernatural elements and plot points that bring the beloved character into the 21st century.

 

Only Murders in the Building – Hulu (3 seasons… so far)

What happens when you mix murder with comedy? Thankfully, the series has tapped the right people to find out with Selena Gomez, Martin Short, and Steve Martin making up the brilliant (though not always the brightest) trio of true crime podcast enthusiasts-turned-amateur-sleuths who set out on a suspenseful journey to find the killer. The quirky series has become such a global phenomenon that it’s even been able to nail some rather impressive guest stars, like Paul Rudd and Meryl Streep. 

 

Death and Other Details – Hulu (Premieres Jan. 16, 2024)

The newest addition into the fold is Hulu’s mystery drama that takes place on a lavish Mediterranean ocean liner amongst the glamor of the “global elite” (we’re getting some Knives Out and Death of the Nile vibes, but we’re not complaining) and finds Imogene Scott (played by God Friended Me’s Violent Beane) at the wrong place and the wrong time, becoming the prime suspect in a murder mystery. To prove her innocence, she has to partner with the world’s greatest detective, Rufus Cotesworth (Mandy Patinkin), whom she, by no coincidence at all, despises. 

 

The Traitors – Peacock (1 Season – Second Premiering Jan 12, 2024)

Murder mystery games are a party hit, so naturally, they’re a fit for reality TV. The competition, hosted by Alan Cumming, features 20 contestants, a mix of famous people and everyday Americans, as they work through missions in an ancient castle in Scotland. Amid those “Faithfuls” are “Traitors,” who try to eliminate the good guys for the top prize.

 

Pretty Little Liars – Freeform (7 Seasons)

If you by some chance missed the pop culture phenomenon that was teen drama Pretty Little Liars (where have you been?)and you consider yourself a very patient person–then it’s time to give it a whirl. The series follows four best friends whose deepest darkest secrets not only come to light but are used against them by someone calling themselves “A” when investigating the death of their good friend, Alison. 

 

The Outsider – HBO (1 Season)

Based on the chilling best-selling novel by Stephen King, the HBO series finds a detective investigating the gruesome murder of a young boy, with all clues pointing to a family man played by Jason Bateman, all before the case takes a supernatural twist, adding horror and paranormal to your typical murder mystery. 

 

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – ABC (3 Seasons)

The Australian drama series infuses the murder mystery genre with glamour and 1920s charm. With a flair for solving crimes and an impeccable sense of fashion, detective Phryne Fisher and her pearl-handled pistol take on murder cases that baffle the police, all while making sure Murdoch Foyle, who she thinks is behind her sister’s disappearance, stays behind bars. 

 

Whether you prefer classics, those with a modern twist, or a dose of comedy with your crime, these shows are sure to keep you guessing until the very end! 

2024 Midseason TV Schedule—All the Network Premiere Dates You Need to Know About

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