Sandra Oh doesn’t think The Chair is going to be renewed by Netflix

Sandra Oh’s popular series, Killing Eve, returns this Sunday for its fourth and final season. That same night, Sandra is up for a Screen Actors Guild award. But her SAG nomination is for her other series, The Chair. The Chair was popular with critics and the people on my Twitter wall couldn’t stop talking about it. All of that is why I am surprised to hear that the show looks like it may not be coming back. At least according to Sandra, who has yet to hear anything from Netflix or anyone else on the matter.

Sandra Oh’s Netflix comedy “The Chair” touches on the sticky nature of how actions are perceived and the consequences that should or shouldn’t come with it in an age of social media, where nuance often gets lost in the debate.

From writer and showrunner Amanda Peet, Netflix’s “The Chair,” which premiered last august, stars Oh as Dr. Ji-yoon Kim, a professor who becomes the first woman of color to become chair of the English department at a fictional New England university. A single mother, Ji-yoon quickly realizes the burden of having to steer a faculty of entitled, out of touch older professors. It isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be.

“I liked it so much immediately,” Oh said of the script. “And then I met up with Amanda and then the whole team and there was just so much like mindedness and a similar approach to work. I wanted to do something fun, actually I was looking for a comedy.”

Will there be more of “The Chair”? “No one’s called me, so I’m guessing that’s not happening,” she said. “I would have loved it, because I just thought that there was so much material there to potentially explore. Because the setting and the characters were established… I’m just happy that it happened, it was a great experience. But I am sad that it’s over.”

[From Variety via Just Jared]

Hollywood is such a brutal business. Can you imagine someone with Sandra’s status sitting by an unringing phone, wondering if her show is being picked up or not? The audacity. (That was said, by the way, in my mother’s voice.) How is it that an award-winning actor is being ghosted about the fate of the show for which she been nominated? Honestly, Netflix has so much to answer for, they’re making all kinds of odd moves these days. Still, I’m surprised given the major players involved, starting with Sandra. Jay Duplass, who co-stars, has more producing and directing credits than he does acting credits. It’s hard to believe Netflix would treat them so cavalierly.

As for the show itself, I’ve said before that I thought it was very good, but I didn’t finish it. It was a hard watch for me because of the academic politics hitting too close to home. I thought it hit on so many issues in academia, though, so I tried to plug it and I still have it on my list. I’m not worried about Sandra’s career, she makes smart choices. But it sounds like she relished this role and that she loves working with Amanda and Jay. It’s too bad it might not be continuing.

Photo credit: Eliza Morse/Netflix and Avalon Red

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29 Responses to “Sandra Oh doesn’t think The Chair is going to be renewed by Netflix”

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  1. Marie says:

    I loved The Chair, it was very funny and intelligent, it should absolutely be renewed.

  2. Jay C says:

    I produced a Netflix show and they are very particular about how and when they release info. So to me it seems unlikely they would not know at this point if they were coming back, and more likely that she was told to say she doesn’t know, because Netflix insists on announcing things in their own time. But for example with my show, we knew well in advance that we were picked up again, and generally were already filming the next season by the time each season was released. So it’d be like “season two now on Netflix and guess what we just decided to renew the show!” But meanwhile we’d already be on set working. We also knew going into our last season that it would be our last but they didn’t announce that until the trailer for the season dropped. Since its been like six months since The Chair came out, I’d be shocked if Netflix was still undecided on another season and people were just waiting by the phone for an answer.

    • Southern Fried says:

      Care to share what show/series you worked on? I did watch the Chair and it was just okay.

  3. TeamAwesome says:

    As an instructor who loathes nonsensical student evaluations, the scene where Holland Taylor’s Joan lights her stacks of them on fire spoke to me on a spiritual level. Parts of this show were too uncomfortable, but overall I enjoyed it.

    • LightPurple says:

      I loved Holland Taylor’s character.

      • Harper says:

        She was the best part of the show, which I too didn’t manage to finish watching. In fact, I would watch a whole season based on just the adventures of the aging-out faculty. Maybe I’ll go back and finish it up now.

      • tealily says:

        She was fantastic. I love the entire exploration of aging. I remember talking to someone who said they turned it off in the beginning because those characters were painted so shallowly and I urged them to finish because of how well they flesh them out by the end of the season.

    • Idolatrous says:

      Hi, first time poster here! Team Awesome, so true! Two of my favorite student evaluation comments, opposite ends of the spectrum: “This class was an exercise in Marxist analysis. Don’t take it if you want to talk about 19th-century art on its own, without the beauty being suffocated by discussion of social class, race, and gender,” and “The professor’s face is a little asymmetrical so sometimes I found it hard to concentrate when she was speaking.” The gender bias in student evaluations of female professors is so real. Years ago I really enjoyed Richard Russo’s novel ‘Straight Man,’ but now that I’ve had more university teaching experience, upon rereading it just kind of made me uncomfortable because only a tenured male prof could get away with the main character’s chaotic antics.

  4. Jane says:

    I’m a UK-based academic rather than a US one but so much of it spoke to me and my experiences. I found it hilarious and completely accurate in equal measure.

    • Hyrule Castle says:

      It was excellent, & concluded the storylines.
      Not everything needs a season 2.
      In fact, most shows would be better with just 1 perfectly perfect season.
      The Chair is one of those.
      Bloodline, The Politician, etc etc.

      1 perfect season is worth more than 5 mediocre. But, money, right?

      • tealily says:

        While I agree with you on the one perfect season thing, I didn’t feel like The Chair had wrapped up at all! So many threads still hanging.

    • HelloDolly! says:

      I am also a professor and under 40. MANY of the scenes spoke to me. During one of my department meetings, my colleague who is JUST like one of the older, out-of-touch characters says, “I didn’t like the Chair–the show is not reflective of our department or academics.” RIGHT. LOL LOL.

  5. Bettyrose says:

    I think the problem with the show is it tried to cram too much into the first season and wrote itself into a corner.

    • ThatsNotOkay says:

      I liked it, but I think it got a lot wrong, especially in German of racial politics. And they oversimplified a lot. Plus, it seemed more like an apologia for whitevmen who’ve been behaving badly as of late. Like “the world’s too woke and we’re so misunderstood, and you are so sensitive.” And I started wondering why Peet would write something with such undertones. Then I remembered her husband and his producing partner got called out and shut down for trying to create the show Confederate, where the South won the war and soavery raged on for much but longer. Using black bodies and trauma for revisionist entertainment didn’t go over too well, even though they tapped a couple of black people to “help them get it ‘right’.” So…maybe that’s why the show wasn’t so off and gone deaf. And maybe Netflix has heard the rumblings and doesn’t want to step in it when it’s already managed to skirt the line.

      • Jane says:

        I actually didn’t see the boyfriend’s story that way – I think the show made it very clear that he was incredibly screwed up (justifiably so because his wife had died and he was grieving), but was coasting along on his previous reputation and good will, and a generous dose of white male privilege, and had blinders on about how inappropriate his behaviour (drinking, drugs, fraternising with students, poorly supervising his grad students, making off the cuff controversial remarks) actually was. And the situation wasn’t helped by the elderly staff refusing to pull their weight either. I’ve worked in a lot of uni departments where middle aged or older white male profs get away with close to murder, and it’s always the female staff (whether junior, senior, poc) that have to pick up the slack for them, and the students make excuses for them because they ‘so cool’ or ‘so brilliant’, so that rang absolutely true.

      • HelloDolly! says:

        Interesting @thatsnotokay and @jane. I guess the show could be doing both?! Because I see both interpretations. This is why I love the humanities and textual analysis.

        I will say, though, there’s more evidence supporting @thatsnotokay. The show portrayed the students like a irrational “woke” mob of POC and portrayed the white professor in a more sympathetic light. There’s literally more humanizing scenes of the professor and very few scenes of the undergraduates that are not denigrating their politics. There’s extensive scenes with a grad student, but not undergraduates. The whole show also revolves around a possible marriage plot with Sandra’s character and the professor in trouble, which then lends itself to viewers possibly wanting him to evade trouble and wed/get together with Oh’s character.

      • bettyrose says:

        I wasn’t bothered by the primary plotline of the kids reacting strongly to a white man being culturally insensitive in comments taken out of context, and him having to experience consequences outside his range of familiarity. That all felt real to me. But the entire series was 6 episodes of 20 minutes, right? That’s not even the length of one silly romcom. Why not draw it out more, explore the nuances. It was in a rush to make a point before Netflix axed it, and I’m guessing that was a self-fulfilling concern. (I also adjunct as an English instructor, so I was very quickly drawn to the show, but ultimately disappointed by it). Let’s all rejoice at least that Sandra Oh will stay fully employed by any number of projects, no matter what.

  6. Yup, Me says:

    My husband and I starting watching it. It was excellent in so many ways, but there were too many vicariously embarrassing/ horrifying moments in the first few episodes. I was unable to deal.

  7. aggie says:

    I work in academia and I just couldn’t stomach watching it. I heard it’s great though.

  8. outoftheshadows says:

    I too work in academia, and my takeaway from this comments section is that academia is a toxic mess and we should all flee!

    • TeamAwesome says:

      Ha, ha, I mean yeah, probably, but it is nothing compared to the absolute hell of when I taught K-12.

  9. lucy2 says:

    I had no idea this show existed, but Sandra AND Holland together? I will go watch it, even if there is only one season.

  10. candy says:

    I wanted to like it because I love her so much, but I couldn’t get into it.

  11. reef says:

    The way Sandra Oh’s gets treated since she left Grey’s really bothers me – from Killing Eve to The Chair to Umma. I need to think more about it to articulate it but being sidelined on her own show (KE), no promo for The Chair or Umma.

  12. bubbled says:

    I looved it, and as a Korean American former English major from the NE, it felt like I was looking into an alternate timeline of my life. From a personal pov I adored how Sandra’s character spoke in English or broken Korean while her father answered in Korean, like in many immigrant families, and loved the small peeks into Korean Am culture, the the tiny cameo by Daniel Dae Kim.

    I also loved the cameo by the guest speaker (I won’t spoil it), and I’m not even a particular fan of that star either.

    I hope Jay C is right and the show has been renewed, it just hasn’t been announced yet.

  13. Meee says:

    I really liked this show. It was intelligently written which so few shows are. And a show about college that isn’t ‘watch college kids do drugs and have sex, aren’t we innovative’.
    For those upstream complaining that it showed academia in a negative light, the audience is intelligent enough to distinguish between what really happens at school and this embellished version.
    My favorite characters were actually Sandra’s Korean aunties. Nice to see a POC speaking their language instead of accented English. Every POC I know speaks their respective languages to their families.
    Also, Duplass’s grief was palpable.
    Good adult show all around. Haven’t been able to watch much on Netflix besides their silly movies.

    • HelloDolly! says:

      Real question: which audience are you referring to? LOL because my mom has a hilariously shallow understanding of academia or what happens at school, which is perfectly understandable? She didn’t go to college. I actually wouldn’t expect any audience member to understand the context, because schools, departments, disciplines, and even entire universities are vastly different from one another and so are audience members.

  14. ninotchka says:

    I’m a WoC academic and enjoyed it. It’s clichéd for sure, but Oh and Duplass have great chemistry, and I appreciate that they explore middle aged single motherhood and the relationship between a parent and (adoptive) child of color across racial difference.

  15. tealily says:

    Uuuuggghhhhh I have been waiting for season 2 since the last frame of the last episode of season 1. Cannot believe it probably isn’t happening. Don’t leave me hanging!