- Year of Release
- 6 x 30 min episodes
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Sandra Oh never ceases to amaze me. Most would remember her as the over-zealous security operative Eve Polastri in Killing Eve, for which she won a SAG award and a Golden Globe. It’s no surprise that her next TV show endeavour on Netflix also looks to have the makings of a winning dramedy. In The Chair, Sandra Oh portrays Ji-Yoon Kim, a woman that has worked her way to the top of the English department at Pembroke College. To give you an indication of what type of show this is, Ji-Yoon finds a celebratory gift wrapped on her desk and proceeds to unwrap it. She finds a desk plaque that reads “F*cker in Charge of you f*cking f*cks”. This is easily the best way to introduce this show to its viewers. The Chair is Sandra Oh at her absolute comedic best, so in other words, be prepared for lots of swearing, giggling, turmoil, unrest and of course, drama (although probably the smallest part of the show).
There’s good news for anyone who isn’t a die-hard fan of comedy. You don’t even have to like comedy to enjoy this show. Sandra Oh’s character is relatable in many ways; she’s strong and capable yet struggles with everyday life issues (and people who create those everyday life issues). It makes things so much better when a fictional character struggles with stupid life crap – everyone has stupid life crap to deal with, right?
For viewers who gravitate towards the more dramatic, however, a few heavy-hitting themes are addressed throughout the season, such as minority under-representation, misogyny, death and ageism, and that’s just the first half of the season! It’s also focused on the family unit (or lack of one) and how Ji-Yoon’s personal situation causes havoc for her professional life in the form of her adopted daughter, Ju-Hee, played by the amazing Everly Carganilla. This young actress sometimes steals the show and seems mature way beyond her years while also acting out in ways only young children can (or should?). Sandra Oh’s chemistry with Everly Carganilla is believable, and their relationship takes front and centre through the latter part of the season.
Pembroke College is just like any other school except for the staff, which is why this show is so appealing. As we delve deeper into the lives of Pembroke’s finest English teachers, we are met with a varied and unique group of individuals who are mostly just trying to get by. And seeing as these fine specimens of academia voted Ji-Yoon in as their chair, it’s interesting to see how their professional relationships impact each other throughout the season.
As the English department chair, it’s Ji-Yoon’s responsibility to ensure that the teachers under her are doing their jobs and keeping students in their classes. Ji-Yoon’s personal life somehow manages to spill over into her professional life with interesting consequences. Ji-Yoon soon discovers that being the top dog does not mean she gets to rest on her laurels and put her feet up. If anything, her life becomes even more complicated, which of course, is great entertainment for us!
The supporting cast is just brilliant! Jay Duplass as the wayward and mostly just lost Bill Dobson is great, as is Holland Taylor portraying Joan Hambling, who has a razor-sharp wit to rival just about anyone. As a group of people who must trust, support and respect each other for nine hours a day, working at Pembroke seems almost too chaotic for anyone to walk away unscathed! Each episode flows nicely into the next, making it easy to keep up with your favourite characters. If you don’t find this show as binge-worthy as I did, I’d be shocked. Currently waiting to find out how the audiences feel about this show, but I really hope it gets the green light for a second season because I’m completely hooked!
Written by Julie and originally reviewed for Keithlovesmovies
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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.