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Chi shows and movies to binge this holiday

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_

City Cast friends! 

Looking to fill that lull between Christmas and New Years? It’s time to binge some of the best Chi films and shows from this year.


Two childhood friends reconnect, but one is living a double life as a light-skinned Black woman who passes as white. 

🎧 Listen to writer Amina Gautier talk about author Nella Larsen’s childhood in Chicago.

🎞️ Stream the film on Netflix. 

📚 Read the 1929 book the movie is based on.

(Image by Netflix)

“Broadcast Signal Intrusion”

Inspired by the 1987 Max Headroom intrusion, Chicago video archivist James begins investigating a series of disturbing broadcast hacks, uncovering a possible conspiracy.

🎧 Listen to star Harry Shum, Jr., and director Jacob Gentry talk about falling down the Max Headroom rabbit hole.

🎞️ Rent the film on Amazon or YouTube

(Image by Dark Sky Films)

“Mama Gloria”

Growing up in Englewood, Gloria Allen’s mother and grandmother encouraged her to embrace who she really was. Now, Mama Gloria continues that tradition by helping young transgender people in Chicago.

🎧 Listen to Mama Gloria talk about the famous “Sissy Balls” in the 1960s.

🎥 Watch the documentary on PBS. 

(Image by Sisters in Cinema)

“Muhammad Ali”

In this film by Ken Burns, watch how Cassius Clay becomes the one and only, the icon, Muhammad Ali.

🎧 Listen to author Jonathan Eig share how he prompted Burns to make the film and why Chicago is crucial to Ali’s story.

🎥 Watch the four-part series on PBS. 

(Image by PBS)


Organizers Janaé Bonsu and Bella BAHHHS helped lead the movement for Black lives following the police killings of Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald.

🎧 Listen to filmmaker Ashley O’Shay talk about the tender moments that shaped these women. Hear Bella BAHHS in her own words.

🎥 Watch the documentary on PBS.

(Image by Kartemquin Films)

“South Side”

Oh man, this show has jokes! And so many South Side references that host Jacoby Cochran especially appreciates, like the shoutout to Italian Fi Fi (IYKYK).

📺 Watch the show on HBO Max.

(Image by HBO)

“Station Eleven”

Years after a flu pandemic, a group of survivors forms a traveling performance troupe around the Great Lakes region.

📺 Stream the show on HBO Max. 

📚 Read the best-selling novel.

(Image by HBO)

“Work in Progress”

This show actually looks like Chicago, featuring North Side coffee shops and bookstores we know and views of DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Comedian Abby McEnany is the hilarious friend/daughter/sister trying to figure it all out.

🎧 Listen to McEnany talk about the differences between herself and her character.

📺 Watch the show on Showtime.

(Image by Showtime)


See if you know the answers to these Chicago facts inspired by past episodes:

1. This West Side staple has served hundreds of small businesses, and anchors the city’s second Magnificent Mile.
💡Hint: You can get speakers, a quince dress, or fish!

2. How many Chicago alderpeople are currently under indictment?
💡Hint: Old money and old folks.

3. Chicago’s oldest Black rodeo, the Broken Arrow Speed and Action Rodeo, is held in what South Side neighborhood?
💡Hint: Where golf, horses, and the lake all meet!

4. This Rogers Park high school is home to refugee students from all over the world, and more than 40 languages are spoken in the hallways.
💡 Hint: Elly Fishman wrote the book on this North Side high school. 

Keep an eye out for the answers in your inbox later this week!

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