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The Chair in the Media: Both Peer and Non-Peer Reviewed

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Likely a show about an academic English department will stimulate writers to write about it, so here we go with a thread, just in case.


Here's an insightful article by Nicole Sperling in the New York Times on the making of the series: nytimes.com/2021/08/19/arts/television/the-chair-netflix-sandra-oh-amanda-peet.html


Spend a bit of time with any progressive teenager, and regardless of your trailblazing bona fides, you might quickly be reduced to a conservative fuddy-duddy. That was the experience the actress and writer Amanda Peet had when her now 14-year-old daughter questioned Peet’s commitment to feminism after she criticized a scantily clad TikToker.

...“This is the first time that I feel like I’ve played an Asian American character that was integrated in a way that I had not seen before, but I know is how we live,” [Oh] said...“This is the stuff that I’ve always wanted to explore.”

...Nana Mensah, who plays...Yaz...[a]t first...was leery of Peet’s ability to accurately depict a Black woman’s struggles within a predominantly white world. But after reading the scripts, she found their accuracy “staggering,” the issues “very smartly handled.”
...“I think what Amanda and the team got so right was that feeling of walking into a room and being outnumbered,” Mensah said. “The language around all of that can be very subtle. Nobody’s burning crosses in anybody’s front yard anymore.”

...An extra four months of writing time, the result of a pandemic pause, helped Peet get the nuances right. “When you can put something in a drawer for a little while, try not to think about it and then take it back out, it’s kind of incredible,” she said with a pause. “It’s incredible how much I realized it sucked.”

...Oh noted that the cast members Bob Balaban, Holland Taylor and Ron Crawford — all of whom are over 70 — were all working for weeks before the vaccine was available to them. The risk they faced added a layer of anxiety that matched the tension the writers were trying to depict in their portrayal of academia....

I always enjoy reading through some of the comments too.

Edited by shapeshifter
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"The Chair Is a Pretty Accurate Portrayal of What It's Like to Be a Woman Professor of Color. That's Why It Can Be Painful to Watch"


“Sandra Oh’s Masterly Performance of Empathy in 'The Chair'” 

      Full text is available from libraries with a Flipster database subscription, but the only really unique comment comes towards the end:

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Edited by shapeshifter
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The Harvard PhD Turned Screenwriter Behind Netflix’s Hit ‘The Chair’


How Annie Julia Wyman transitioned from Cambridge to Hollywood and cocreated Netflix’s academic drama with Amanda Peet

The Chair is not a documentary. Anyone who has so much as set foot in a quadrangle could tell you that professors are lucky if their offices have windows, let alone the wood paneling or ample square footage of the rooms at Pembroke University. Nor do academic colleagues tend to have the live-wire chemistry of Sandra Oh and Jay Duplass, the stars who play two scholars caught in the crosshairs of campus controversy and institutional change. The six-episode Netflix series fits into a proud tradition of campus fiction, from Lucky Jim to Changing Places, and The Chair’s Pembroke—not to be confused with the University of North Carolina satellite or Brown’s erstwhile women’s college—is fictional in more ways than one.

[...] The Chair speaks to all-too-real anxieties among the intellectual set. {...} Much of that authenticity comes from cocreator Annie Julia Wyman, who has an unusual credential for a Hollywood screenwriter: a PhD from Harvard, where she earned her doctorate in 2017 after penning her dissertation on the comic novel. Wyman joined forces with Amanda Peet, who shares creator credit, when the actress and playwright reached out while researching her nascent concept for a workplace comedy set in an old-school English department. Peet met with plenty of professors during this fact-finding phase, but few who already had a pilot script in development, as Wyman did. Soon enough, Wyman went from potential consultant to full-blown collaborator.


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