Television too often gets Chicago wrong
The reported hate crime committed against Jussie Smollett this week shouldn't be surprising -- unless you only know the Windy City through primetime, says Melanie McFarland. "Right now Chicago is as famous as it is famously misunderstood among major American metropolises. Part of the reason for this perception is due to the city’s portrayal in prime time," says McFarland, pointing to Dick Wolf's NBC Chicago shows. "Along with serving as Donald Trump’s go-to example of urban crime and social decay," she says, "Chicago is to modern television what New York was to the 1990s and early Aughts: an essential American cultural, socioeconomic and political hub whose legendary architecture, iconic skyline and an expansive waterfront make it impressively telegenic." The problem is that Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med don't dwell on the racial segregation affecting the city. It's up to the little-watched The Chi on Showtime and the upcoming CBS event series The Red Line to set viewers straight. "Chicago can be a fictional character, but outside of primetime, beyond television, it’s a real place whose people endure problems both minor and existential," says McFarland. "Where life can be wonderful for all, but tends to be unfair and dangerous for specific people and for very specific, systemic reasons. Typically we’re reminded of that when something awful happens to someone the widest swath of people can relate to. But since we have multiple fictionalized opportunities to see city stories on the TV schedule, it would be useful to witness these truths more frequently."
- NBC renews all three Chicago shows
- Chicago P.D. disappoints with its second attempt to do a Black Lives Matters-themed episode
- Sophia Bush recalls "a consistent onslaught barrage of abusive behavior" while working in Chicago P.D.
- NBC adds two episodes to each of its Chicago dramas