Five reasons to watch ‘City So Real’ the docuseries exploring Chicago politics

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James developed a five-episode series chronicling Chicago communities from 2019 and beyond.

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A new documentary, City So Real shares some of the multi-faceted stories of the Chicago community. The National Geographic documentary film takes viewers through the campaign and election of current Mayor Lori Lightfoot while revealing the truth about the current state of the Windy City.

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National Geographic Channel premieres City So Real on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. in a commercial-free event. The docuseries will be available the next day to stream on Hulu.

Here are five reasons you should watch:

Lori Lightfoot’s historical campaign is explored. In 2018, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would not seek reelection. After the Laquan McDonald case brings the city national attention and criticism, 21 candidates emerged in the quest for the title of mayor. In the end, Lightfoot rises to the top to became the first Black woman and openly LGBTQ person to hold the office. The docuseries explores how she came to prominence, not only highlighting her efforts but the campaigns led by competitors and the community reaction.

Lori Lightfoot
Lori Lightfoot delivers a victory speech after defeating Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to become the next mayor of Chicago (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

City So Real offers varying political points of view. Like most cities, the residents of Chicago do not all think and live the same. Chicago Mag reports more than 83% of the city’s voters cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton over President Donald Trump in the Democratic stronghold. But producer Steve James makes sure to highlight more than one side of the political debate. From men in the barbershop to youth activists to business owners, the docuseries offers a complete view of Chicago voters, no matter their race, gender, or identity.

It gets real. Like the title suggests, the docuseries goes beyond numbers, statistics, and stereotypes of the Midwest by centering real stories, real people, and real footage. James gives each neighborhood represented the opportunity to define itself. Subjects such as progressive activist and 2019 mayoral candidate Amara Enyia, who was endorsed by Chance The Rapper and Kanye West, and media personality Maze Jackson, who had issues with Lightfoot, are shown candidly.

Other issues are not ignored. While politicians are the focus, the needs and wants of the community are also shown whether they align with popular opinion or not. Private citizens get as much space as their political counterparts. City So Real covers the plight of small businesses, communities facing gentrification, racial tensions that go beyond Black and white, and more.

The final episode explores the pandemic’s impact on the city. After filming and completing the first four episodes, James decided to return and film the fifth episode to document Lightfoot’s journey through the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice uprisings sparked by the death of George Floyd, and other timely issues that impacted Chicago. The last episode conveys the voices of activists, police, neighborhood residents, and other members of the community who are advocating for their version of change.

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There are moments in City So Real that will make you angry, that will make you laugh, that will make you cry, but there is also hope. The five-hour film shows what change looks like in real time. As the country engages in a continued battle against coronavirus, racial violence, and a shifting political landscape, Chicago remains valiant.

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