The Chi, a coming-of-age drama series created by Lena Waithe, follows the interconnected lives of a group of residents of a neighborhood of the South Side of Chicago. The series was an instant hit with fans and its ratings increased steadily after it premiered in January.
Showtime confirmed the renewal of The Chi for Season 2 in January and announced that Ayanna Floyd Davis, who wrote the third episode of the first season, had signed on as showrunner and executive producer for Season 2. The network’s confirmation of The Chi for Season 2 after only four episodes of the first season had been aired came as no surprise following the enthusiastic audience response to the series.
The first season of The Chi scored an average rating of 7.44/10 on Rotten Tomatoes and a “certified fresh” approval rating of 86% from 42 reviews by critics.
Airing on Showtime on Sunday nights at 10/9c, The Chi average 4.5 million viewers weekly across multi-platforms and ranked as the highest-rated freshman season on Showtime since Billions in 2016.
Gary Levine, Showtime’s president of programming, said that making the decision to renew The Chi for Season 2 was easy because of the enthusiastic viewer response and favorable critical reviews.
“From viewers and critics alike, the response to ‘The Chi’ has been so enthusiastic from the very start that our decision to renew the series was an easy one,” Levine said. “We love the vibrant characters and the nuanced world that Lena has created. Her vision for ‘The Chi’ has clearly struck a chord, and we know she has many more moving, personal and resonant stories to tell about her beloved hometown.”
With fans looking forward to the return of The Chi in 2019, we bring you everything we know so far, plus latest news, about the upcoming new season of the Showtime favorite.
The Chi Season 2 release date
Update: Showtime has announced that The Chi season 2 will premiere on Sunday, April 7, at 10. p.m. ET/PT.
— COMMON (@common) January 31, 2019
Although Showtime has confirmed The Chi for Season 2, the network has not announced the premiere date. However, The Chi Season 2 is expected to premiere in 2019 after Season 1 premiered on January 7, 2018.
The Chi season 2 trailer
Showtime dropped the official trailer for The Chi season 2 on January 31, 2019.
The Chi Season 2 details
The Chi was created by the Emmy Award-winning producer and screenwriter Lena Waithe.
Waithe is also executive producing The Chi with Academy and Golden Globe Award-winning rapper, singer, actor and producer Common. Ayanna Floyd Davis, Aaron Kaplan, Rick Famuyiwa, Derek Dudley and Freedom Road Productions’ Shelby Stone are also co-executive producing the series.
Waithe is best known for her work co-writing Netflix’s Master of None (TV series 2015- ). She is the first black woman to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
.@THR's Showrunner Power List: @LenaWaithe, the 34-year-old multihyphenate, followed up her Emmy win for #MasterOfNone by creating #TheChi for Showtime, placing pilot Twenties at TBS and writing an indie feature starring Daniel Kaluuya https://t.co/zE9QFFPB1a pic.twitter.com/vCyJ0OvmHY
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) October 18, 2018
Common starred in Selma (2014) as James Bevel, wrote and performed the song Glory for Selma with John Legend and Rhymefest. He won the 2015 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the 2015 Academy Award for Best Original Song for Glory.
Aaron Kaplan is known for having co-executive produced Santa Clarita Diet (TV series 2017- ) and Divorce (TV series 2016- ).
The Nigerian-American Rick Famuyiwa, who directed the pilot episode of The Chi, is best known for writing and directing The Wood (1999) and Brown Sugar (2002). He wrote and directed Dope (2015), and co-wrote Talk to Me (2007).
Deadline reported in January that Ayanna Floyd David had signed on as showrunner and executive producer for The Chi Season 2. Davis is replacing Elwood Reid who was the showrunner for Season 1 of the series.
Davis, who wrote the third episode of The Chi Season 1, is known for having co-written and co-executive produced a number of successful TV series, including Fox’s Empire (TV series 2015- ), NBC’s Hannibal (TV series 2013-2015), USA Network’s Falling Skies (TV series 2011- 2015), and VH1’s Hit the Floor (TV series 2013).
She also worked as co-producer and supervising producer on ABC’s Private Practice (TV series 2007-2013).
When Collider asked Waithe what she found most exciting about the upcoming The Chi Season 2, she said it was getting Davis as the new showrunner.
“The biggest idea I had was getting a new showrunner, which was imperative,” Waithe said. “Her name is Ayanna Floyd Davis, and she’s phenomenal. She’s an amazing black woman. She’s gonna be our fearless leader, and the leader that we need, honestly, for the show. So, I’m really excited about that.”
The Chi ended its first season run on Sunday, March 18. Showtime confirmed the renewal of the series for Season 2 on January 30, 2018, after four episodes of the 10-episode first season had been aired.
The Chi season 1 ranked as the top-rated new Showtime series since Billions in 2016, averaging 4.5 million weekly viewers on multiple platforms.
The Chi Season 2 cast
The entire main cast for Season 1 is likely to return for Season 2.
The main cast included Jason Mitchell as Brandon Johnson (Straight Outta Compton 2015, Mudbound 2017), Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (Queen of Katwe 2016) as Ronnie Davis, Jacob Latimore (Sleight 2016) as Emmett Washington, Alex Hibbert (Moonlight 2016) as Kevin Williams, Tiffany Boone (The Following TV series 2013-2015) as Jerrika Little, Yolonda Ross (Treme TV series 2010-2013 and The Get Down TV series 2016-2017) as Jada Washington.
Other members of the Season 1 cast are Armando Riesco as Detective Cruz, Byron Bowers as Meldrick, Sonja John as Laverne Johnson, LaDonna Tittle as Ethel, Steven Williams as Quentin Dickinson, and Jahking Guillory as Coogie Johnson.
The series won strong audience approval due to the quality of the acting. Both Mitchell and Latimore have been praised for their effective portrayal of the characters Brandon and Emmett. Hibbert who portrays Kevin has also received praise from fans.
The Chi Season 2: Latest casting news
The Chi Season 2 is currently in production. Deadline reported in July that Shamon Brown Jr., Barton Fitzpatrick, and Michael Epps, who played recurring roles in Season 1 as Papa, Reg and Jake respectively, have been promoted to series regulars for The Chi Season 2.
Variety also reported in September that Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Carl Lumbly and Curtiss Cook have been cast in recurring roles for The Chi Season 2.
According to the report, Gregory will appear as Kimberly Hendricks, “a razor-sharp power attorney working on behalf of Ronnie,” played by Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine.
Gregory previously appeared in Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (TV series 2017-2018) as Yvette, and in Better Call Saul (TV series 2015- ) as Kyra Hay. She also had roles in Brooklyn Nine-Nine (TV series 2013- ), Vice Principals (TV series 2016-2018) and Devious Maids (TV series 2013-2016).
Carl Lumbly will play Walter Dion Burkes, founder of the 63rd St. Mob. Lumbly’s previous credits include Supergirl (TV series 2015- ) and NCIS Los Angeles (TV series 2009- ).
Curtiss Cook has been cast as Douda, a successful businessman and hustler who becomes a mentor to Brandon. Cook appeared in Luke Cage (TV series 2016-2018), A Black Man Acting (TV series 2014-2016), and House of Cards (TV series 2013-2018).
On October 17, the producers issued a casting call for area locals who want to be cast in paid extra roles.
The Chi Season 2 plot
Update: According to an official synopsis released on January 31, 2019, The Chi season 2 will follow Brandon’s efforts to make his food truck business a success, while facing challenges in his relationship with Jerrika (Tiffany Boone).
Meanwhile, Emmett (Jacob Latimore) struggles with the pains of growing up and securing custody of his son. He will have the support of his mother Jada (Yolonda Ross) who is settling to a new life.
Kevin (Alex Hibbert) confronts the trauma of his early life experience as he strengthens his relationship with his friends, Papa (Shamon Brown Jr.) and Jake (Michael Epps).
Reg (Barton Fitzpartrick) continues to be a bad influence on his younger brother Jake.
In prison, Ronnie (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) comes to terms with shooting and killing Charles “Coogie” Johnson (Jahking Guillory), Brandon’s brother.
Meanwhile, Detective Cruz (Riesco) starts a fresh investigation.
Original story: The Chi is essentially a coming-of-age story that gives viewers an insight into the human side of sensationalizing headlines about the South Side of Chicago. The series, produced entirely in Chicago, focuses on life in a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.
It portrays a group of residents — Emmett, Brandon, Ronnie, and Kevin — whose lives become interconnected by chance events. They become involved with each other in their common quest for human connection and personal redemption. They face the daily dangers of living and surviving in the city’s South Side which threatens their lives, dreams, and aspirations.
Season 1 also followed the young best friends Kevin (Alex Hibbert), Papa (Shamon Brown Jr.) and Jake (Michael Epps) as they confront life challenges that reflect the circumstances of inner-city life. The friends contend with negative influences, such as Jake’s older brother Reg (Barton Fitzpatrick), and struggle to maintain their integrity, a daunting task in their environment.
The producers, including Waithe, have so far been tight-lipped about what fans can expect plot-wise in The Chi Season 2. Waithe avoided delving into the details during a March 2018 FYC event at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles but promised that the series will continue to focus on making a realistic portrayal of life in South Side of Chicago.
Waithe added she had always wanted to “talk about Chicago, not about cops who patrol the city but about those who are patrolled by cops.”
The Chi tells the story of a group of people “trying to figure out who you want to be, trying to make one thing,” she explained.
When prodded to share some details about what fans can expect of The Chi Season 2, she would only say that “It’s going to be blacker and more authentic.”
Despite her reticence, she made it clear that she would strive to use more original stories to deeply explore the experience of the residents of Chicago’s South Side.
— SINAVU (@Sinavu_HQ) October 20, 2018
Jason Mitchell, who plays Brandon Johnson, also teased fans about what to expect from The Chi Season 2 in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last June. He expressed pleasure about the audience response to the first season of The Chi and said he was looking forward to his role in Season 2.
Although he did not have much to share about the details of the plot and storyline, he assured viewers that they would see more of themselves in the characters because the show was striving to be more and more a “human show.”
“I’m just super excited about Season 2 because it’s just so wide open, and it’s just going to get more real,” he said.
“[Just about] everybody has done as much good as they do bad and it’s just such a human show and that’s what makes Lena’s writing so great,” he continued. “She’s just a great human and doesn’t mind putting herself out there. She kills it.”
Mitchell added that the best aspect of the show was its portrayal of the characters warts and all. According to Mitchell, the portrayal of the good and bad sides of the characters was realistic.
“There’s no good guys and bad guys. Everybody is flawed, in a beautiful way,” he said. “The fact that people were connected to that was really amazing, and the fact that rating went up every week was always mind-boggling.”
“The fact that people are talking about it, I’m deeply grateful,” he continued. “And the biggest thing was that Chicago is really approving of it, which really means a lot to me. It really means a lot to me that it’s been well received.”