Updated on 22 July: Sandra Oh is basically a goddess of the small screen (don’t @ us, you know we’re right), stealing the spotlight in basically every project she’s ever starred in; think Grey’s Anatomy, Killing Eve, and Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon, to name but three.
Now, she’s teamed up with Game Of Thrones bosses David Benioff and DB Weiss for a new Netflix series – and, based on the trailer alone, it’s guaranteed to have us sat indoors all weekend with the curtains closed so we can binge it from start to finish.
In the trailer, Oh makes her much-anticipated debut as The Chair’s Dr Ji-Yoon Kim, aka the first female and woman of colour to lead the English department at the prestigious Pembroke University.
And, as it turns out, she’s got a challenge and a half on her hands. Because, as she tells her colleagues in no uncertain terms, the department is “in dire crisis.”
“I feel like someone handed me a ticking time bomb,” she adds, “because they wanted to make sure a woman was holding it when it explodes.”
Watch the trailer for The Chair below:
There’s a lot to process here, right?
Firstly, there’s the fact that Dr Ji-Yoon Kim is more than capable of running this entire university, but she is too busy (to quote one of her colleagues) “running around playing nice” – a sentiment which speaks to us on a very deep level, quite frankly.
Indeed, a study published in the Spanish Journal Of Psychology, Frankel and Frohlinger has stated that women are more likely to feel guilty because they are socialised to be considerate of the needs and feelings of others.
“The problem is, guilt is one of the least productive emotions out there, and often it holds us back from going after the things we really want,” it adds.
Secondly, it appears as if Oh’s character is in a relationship with a professor played by Jay Duplass, who just so happens to be at the root of their university’s latest scandal. Could it be that our hero was brought in to give Pembroke someone to blame when the PR problems become insurmountable?
Thirdly, there’s Dr Ji-Yoon Kim’s bold declaration that she plans to “fucking shake things up.” Because, let’s face it, who among us can’t wait to see what this entails? (Fingers crossed it involves giving the misogynists running the show at Pembroke a lesson on sexist vernacular in the workplace).
Intrigued? Here, then, is everything you need to know about The Chair.
What’s the plot of The Chair?
The Chair, as already explained above, follows Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim as she navigates her new role as the Chair of the English department at Pembroke.
“Ji-Yoon is faced with a unique set of challenges as the first woman to chair the department, and as one of the few staff members of colour at the university,” promises the official Netflix synopsis.
“The older staff fear change, while new blood, like professor Yasmin McKay (Nana Mensah), agitate for it. Ji-Yoon tries to juggle her new administrative responsibilities – clashing with close co-workers who were confidants before she became the boss – with motherhood to her young daughter Ju Ju (Everly Carginilla) and caretaking for her father Habi (Ji Yong Lee).
Is there any more information on The Chair?
As reported on 13 May: The streaming platform has shared a teaser about the upcoming series on Twitter, but it doesn’t take the form of a trailer; rather, it’s a fake news clipping.
Check it out:
Highlighting the aforementioned challenges, The Pembroke Daily claims that Professor Kim’s hiring may have come “179 years too late”, branding it “a last ditch effort” to save a department seen by the school as a “sinking ship.”
Who stars in The Chair?
As mentioned already, Oh will take on the role of Professor Ji-Yoon Kim in this six-episode dramedy.
Her fellow university staff include Jay Duplass as Professor Bill Dobson, Holland Taylor as Professor Joan Hambling, Bob Balaban as Professor Elliot Rentz, Nana Mensah as Professor Yaz McKay, and David Morse as Dean Paul Larson.
Everly Carganilla, meanwhile, will star as Ju-Hee “Ju Ju” Kim.
Who wrote The Chair?
The series has been co-produced and co-created by Amanda Peet. And, while the series marks the actor’s first as a writer and showrunner, she has two plays under her writer’s belt; The Commons of Pensacola, produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2013, and Our Very Own Carlin McCullough, produced at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse in 2018.
Annie Julia Wyman co-wrote the pilot.
What are people saying about The Chair?
In a new interview with The LA Times’ Asian Enough podcast, Oh said that she will not be reprising her role as Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy, and that she hopes fans will follow her onto this exciting new TV project.
“Please come with me to Killing Eve and onto The Chair and onto the other projects, because this is also how we have moved on as well, with all the joy,” Oh said.
“Come see, then, the characters that I’m playing that are much more deeply integrated in our Asian American experience.”
When will The Chair be available for streaming?
The Chair is officially set to premiere on Netflix on Friday 27 August, making it the perfect binge-watch for the bank holiday weekend.
Anyone else counting down the days?
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.
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