The English Department at the Pembroke University is striving to get the new generation interested in English Literature and the heavyweight classics associated with it such as Moby Dick and The Canterbury Tales. Amidst their low enrolment crisis, they appoint Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh) as their first female chair who inherits a flailing department and is forced to ask three of the senior-most tenured professors to retire.
The first season of the series explores the journey of a highly passionate teacher who is divided between fulfilling her duties as the chair and parenting a particularly disturbed child, all by herself. The series beautifully captures extremities such as classics vs modernism, free speech vs absurdism and culture vs internet. We see a refreshing and witty dialogue on institutional sexism and racism, that is still struggling to be heard & reflected upon in the 21st century.
The Chair is an intelligent comedy-drama that is charming and yet so significantly humorous. It has been created by Amanda Peet and Annie Julia Wyman and is an expert analysis of the cancel-culture and prevalent sexism at the workplace. From a taste of the woke culture and protests by the younger generation to a stubborn and stagnant attitude by the older generation, Dr. Kim tries to strike a balance between the two polarised groups and ironically ends up in the line of fire multiple times.
We witness a funny deduction of Bill Dobson’s (Jay Duplass) mid-life crisis along with his constant nervous breakdowns and elevated style of teaching. While I am a Sandra Oh fan all the way from Grey’s Anatomy and Killing Eve to The Chair, Ju Ju (Everly Carganilla) stands out the most as Dr. Kim’s daughter. From scandalising her babysitters to reading Bill a very graphic book- The Family Man, she is a child struggling to understand and balance her Korean & Mexican roots.
The Chair is an enlightening watch and makes one introspect about the connotations attached to literature in the prevalent digital age. In an age where one can find loopholes in the classics such as sexism and men writing women’s narratives, the story grasps onto introducing a holistic perspective from both ends.
The Chair (Season 1) is now out on Netflix.