Eliza Morse, Netflix © 2022

Jay Duplas as Bill Chair.

New Netflix shows Chair Follow a struggling English department and its new chairman Ji-Yoon Kim, played by Sandra Oh. The show has all the hallmarks of the college, including the admissions crisis, professors who are passionate about their field of study, and of course conflicts. We convened scholars to discuss the program’s portrayal of the academic world: Allison Kinney, Assistant Professor of Writing at Eugene Long School, New School; Grace Lavery, Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley; Dan Sinykin, Assistant Professor of English at Emory University; And Rebecca Wanzo, professor and chair of women, gender and sexuality at Washington University in St. Louis. Sit on your sofa and watch with us. We will review all six episodes. For a complete review list, click here.

For length and clarity, this dialogue has been edited.

Rebecca: I was surprised by the amount of actual work. With enough reality, it starts to become nervous to watch!Although we have some university professors as regular roles on TV shows (Gary Thirties Noah Wail Falling sky, As a historian specializing in colonial history, his knowledge interestingly makes him an outstanding strategist in combating alien invasions), their main purpose seems to be to sleep with students or demoralize them. Often it’s both.One show I remember focused on university teachers was Richard Dreyfus Star Car Max Bickford’s education (2001-2002). My vague memory made me think it was decent, but there were few right things, and focused on the failed liberalism of the baby boomers, he kind of despised the performance of progressivism on campus. Helen Slater plays a transgender woman who has recently transformed, which is an example of the strange mixture of sympathy and fear that was common in that period.

We called four scholars to talk about the drama’s depiction of the academic world, and they did not flinch. Read the summary:

What I like about this pilot is that it really understands a lot of things at the moment-admission “crisis” (when you see the performance of some classes, it is not a crisis at all), early retirement promotes senior faculty and staff, and an apparently few Departments where new employees are hired.It did make the following error Confusing Article 9 with Part Seven Claim. In addition, Ji-Yoon decided to let Yaz and a senior white male colleague co-teach the year of her tenure, and he was in charge of her case, which is something that no half-brained chair would do—of course there are some things that are anything interesting. Women of race don’t care about colleagues. That, and the strange way that tenure seems to be in the hands of one person, may explain the fact that a graduate student wrote this article. Co-creator Annie Wyman is very, very smart about many things in this series, but the fact that she doesn’t directly experience all the complexities of teacher life is sometimes obvious.

Alison: I think most people who watch it are academics, but I hope that the show will create more context for non-tertiary viewers (or any university administrators!), budget constraints, admissions, and bottom line fallacy. Energetic contact with students is essential, but I don’t want to blame the department’s budget crisis on improper teaching. Poor teaching is important and a systemic problem, but it is an “and”, not an “or”, and its application here is a bit dishonest.I know that destroying higher education through a systematic neoliberal policy does not necessarily make good TV… but maybe a show that claims to show the problems of hosting the English department should Solve these problems head-on?

with: The show wants us to know immediately that it is disrespectful-even farce. Yes, the office of the chair is big and beautiful… but when the chair first sat in her chair, it collapsed, she fell to the floor, and then the title screen flickered”Chair. “I am a fool of visual gimmicks.

Things are falling apart. Ji-Yoon rehearses our clichés (“terrible crisis”, “declining enrollment”, “unprecedented era”, “critical thinking…more important than ever”, “what we teach…cannot be quantified “) While we watched Bill drank seven bottles of beer, urinated in the parking lot, couldn’t find his car, stole and crashed a golf cart. The show seems to like these difficult English professors-they all work hard for our sympathy, even though most of them behave badly-at the same time making fun of our pretentiousness, and even worrying about our pretentiousness, which is taking us Pushed to death. We profess to give wisdom to us, but we lack wisdom to live our lives well. As the show itself reported, Bill was the most serious problem. Our stereotyped “disgruntled middle-aged white male professor” performed poorly but was overrated, allowing his colleagues of color to take over. But he is also a new widower, kind to Ji Yun, kind to Zhu Joo, very interesting (he gave her a nameplate that says “FUCKER IN CHARGE OF YOU FUCKING FUCKS”)-and, I regret to admit, hot.

Grace: The title of the first episode, “Brilliant mistake“From the Elvis Costello song we heard at the end of the film,” he thinks he is the king of America/they pour Coca-Cola there like old-fashioned wine. In this case, “he” is probably Bill. His talent lies in juxtaposition of absurdism and fascism. His mistake is to use “Long live Hitler” as voiceWhether such a brilliance, or indeed such a mistake, is worthy of the name, let alone the kissing line of the entire episode, is still an open question. Nonetheless, Costello’s lines emphasizing Bill’s speech seem to point out some of the promises of this episode, as well as some blind spots. In particular, these lines describe the differences between the descriptions of political sovereignty in the United States and Europe on the one hand, and the descriptions of cultural capital on the other. Any narrative of the humanities must explore the relationship between political power-such as the “Eisenstadt Board of Directors” whose relatives are clearly worthy of protection from the sexual predation of male teachers-and the rejection of the humanities is useless The relationship is represented by Joan Hambling, an old white lady on the show.

with: I like Joan Hambling played by Holland Taylor. (I consulted IMDb, And she had served as a scholar before, in Bells to Rescue: University Age.) We are destined to be torn apart by her. As people say, she is problematic: her rant to the Title IX coordinator is out of touch, sexist, and high-level cringe. However, Taylor has expressed all her lines with such a joy in life, and I find that it is impossible not to like her character.

Grace: I think my favorite aspect of this episode is the friendship between generations: Ji Yoon’s friendship with Joan is in stark contrast to the cold, distrustful relationship between Yaz and Eliot, the latter being more familiar—though Maybe it’s more reasonable.But I’m not sure if the price of this friendliness is universally naive, every role is replaced by sex: the teacher’s lounge as a ranch Eunuch

I can’t be the only young woman who thinks Bill said goodbye to him at the airport (graffiti, graffiti) not his daughter but his lover, her most shocking and inexplicable line for this episode, “What happened? , What happened.” However, the implication of Bill’s incontinence was never actually instantiated. We left a model of a modernist professional: a straight man who uses 10 yuan in words but still sounds cheap.

Alison: Re: Bill’s lecture, I found the actual content-except for very bad decisions-quite touching. The conversation that continues without hope makes me wonder when the show should start: now? After the epidemic? Pre? In a world without? This is what my students have always wanted to talk about: how to move forward in the face of crisis. good, A generation I want to keep talking too! Especially now, given that the pandemic has destroyed so much higher education in the past two years. However, I hope this role can win that moment by doing more work. On the contrary, it feels like a foil to the student demonstrations I expect in later episodes.

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