The words “Sandra Oh is in it” are a guarantee that Team Must will be reaching for the streaming service. One of the best actors around, most people will know Oh from her brilliant turn in Killing Eve or as Christina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy. And now, hurrah, she has her own show on Netflix.
It’s a neat idea: a rundown English department at a prestigious US college appoints a new departmental chair to fix the problems of low enrolments, bored students, and disaffected staff. And for the first time they turn to a woman… of colour. But, it is a poisoned chalice, because the place is so messed up, or as Oh’s character Dr Ji-Yoon Kim puts it: “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 a woman was holding it when it explodes.”
If we say that it’s a deft exploration of student politics, cancel culture and gender balance, don’t be put off. It’s warm, witty and pretty feelgood, with top performances from Sandra Oh, Jay Duplass and Holland Taylor. And, it’s in easy to eat 30-minute episodes.
Ed Power in The Telegraph says The Chair “is quickly revealed to be a quietly addictive comedy of manners. The tone is morosely funny and the story goes down easily in 30-minute servings.” In Rolling Stone Alan Sepinwall says that the creators have “weighty issues on their minds and more, making The Chair one of the year’s more thematically ambitious shows. But they’re also trying to juggle too much, often losing track of the characters who are asking the same questions their creators are.” Writing in The Washington Post Inkoo Kangcalls The Chair “a feather-light farce” that is “a timely exploration of how institutions are often resistant toward fresh approaches and diverse candidates, even to their own detriment.” And she celebrates that the series shows a “deepening portrayal of a Korean American woman in situations seldom explored in pop culture.”
First shown August 2021.