Sandra Oh is back with a performance that would make you love her even more. Created by Amanda Peet and Annie Whyman, “The Chair,” which made its debut on Netflix on Friday, cuts the mustard with its honest and authentic story and characters.
The show follows Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh), who navigates her way through a new career peak as she is appointed the chair of the English department, which is already dealing with low enrolment issues with a few old and aged faculty who refuse to retire.
Interestingly, she is the first woman and person of color to hold this position in the history of Pembroke University. With glitter in her eyes and stride in her walk, Dr. Ji-Yoon enters her new office, and with that, she enters the world of chaos and never-ending obstacles.
On her very first day, she calls for a meeting attended by all the professors, except Bill Thompson ( Jay Duplass), who is apparently the most popular and loved staff member among the students. Bill, who lost his wife almost a year ago, has gone to drop his daughter off at the airport. Contrary to his daughter’s advice to ‘get his shit together, he decides to head to the bar, get drunk and lose his car, and what follows next is a great comedy of errors.
Meanwhile, Ji-Yoon gets the idea of how this position is as good as having too many irons in the fire, when the Dean, Paul Larson (David Morse), informs her that she might have to let go off of the three most experienced and highly paid professors of their department due to low enrolment and budget issues. But she decides to take the bull by the horns and dives right into providing solutions. However, she is rewarded with a more significant obstacle for every win that she gets.
Why did we like ‘The Chair?
The show covers a lot of topics and situations. It shows the struggle of a single working mother of an adopted child. It shows how she is fighting to maintain a work-life balance. It shows the power struggle between the old and the new generation, how the older generation averts the idea of change, and how the younger ones crave it. It shows how a widower is sparing no effort of building a new life and failing miserably at it. All these moments and many more like these make it a remarkable show.
Sandra Oh’s problem-solving skills look so natural and unfeigned. At no given point was I frustrated or left wondering why she wouldn’t deal with something in a more pronounced fashion because everything she was doing felt relatable.
The Chair acts as a window to the daily problems that female professors and teachers of color and different ethnicities.
The beauty of this series is how it deals with the most trivial conversations in the most humorous and satirical manner. When Ji-Yoon says, “Stop saying gag order,” and then immediately corrects herself with, “Actually, no, say it as much as you want.”, or when she says, “I don’t feel like I inherited an English Department. I feel like someone handed me a ticking time bomb because they wanted to make sure that a woman was holding it when it blew off.”, it makes you laugh and gives you food for thought, all at the same time.
Such great and funny moments full of sarcasm and comedy make this show a must-watch. And the intimate tension between Ji-Yoon and Bill Dobson is a cherry on top.
The Chair is a 2021 Comedy Drama Television Series Annie Julia Wyman and Amanda Peet. It is streaming on Netflix.