The Chair: A Netflix College Drama That Highlights Faculty Life

Jay Duplass and Sandra Oh in the premiere episode of Pittsburgh-filmed Netflix dramedy “The Chair.” (Eliza Morse/Netflix/TNS)

By: Andrew Thrift, Sports Editor

The Netflix original “The Chair” follows Sandra Oh’s character, Ji-Yoon, as she becomes chair of a fictional Pembroke University’s English department and focuses on her rocky relationship with the old department chair Bill Dobson played by Jay Duplass.

While the Pembroke in the show is not the same as our Pembroke here in North Carolina, it still offers a unique perspective on both the lives of faculty members and students from the eyes of department chairs and the struggles created by an overwhelming university system. There is character drama and tension, with bits of humor along the way that ultimately illuminates the hard workers who are the lifeblood of college universities.

Ji-Yoon is the first woman of color to become chair of the currently failing English department. In her first week as chair, she is tasked with the hard job of getting three of the highest paid yet lowest attendance professors to retire.

Professor Dobson, another central character in the show, recently lost his wife and sent his daughter off to college, and has begun dealing with the aftermath of these dramatic changes in his life. Dobson’s behavior causes him to become embroiled in controversy at the school which ignites the conflict between his character and the rest of the English department.

“I am honestly very interested to watch the show. It will be really awesome to see if this show brings any light to our Pembroke,” said sophomore Ashley Arriaga.

The show is new to Netflix, debuting on the streaming platform on August 20, 2021. It has received positive if not average reviews among critics, and fan support from audiences.

“The best reason to sit through the anemic first four episodes is for the series’ deepening portrayal of a Korean American woman in situations seldom explored in pop culture.” said Inkoo Kang of the Washington Post in her recent review.

“This show seems very intriguing,” said sophomore Brennan Walker. “It seems like there is going to be a second season to follow the characters after the end.”

Netflix has not yet announced a season two, but fans remain hopeful that the show continues.

The ending of the show focused on the main characters sitting on a bench talking about their futures. This ending allows room for the show to potentially extend into a second season, but also has a positive ending for the season providing closure for the character’s and their situations.

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