Chicago Med premiered on NBC last night. It’s the third installment of a new Dick Wolf franchise that focuses on the Windy City and includes Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and now Chicago Med.
Last week, I headed to Chi-Town to visit the set – one world that spawns three different shows.
You can see the cast of Chicago Fire bring a burn victim to the set of Chicago Med, and see a criminal apprehended by a police officer on Chicago PD. Not only is that cool, but the cameos on these franchises are endless. Chicago Fire stars Oz actor Eamonn Walker and Sex and The City‘s David Eigenberg, as well as Gaga’s boy toy Taylor Kinney.
But while I was there, I was concerned to know whether any of the real Chi-Raq would make it onto the show. Chi-Raq is one of the nicknames for Chicago, a city that although beautiful, is plagued with gun violence.
That’s one of the things that makes Chicago such a great place to be the backdrop of a drama series, as David Eigenberg points out:
“You don’t go ‘Oh, I”m going to go to Chicago!’ You come here because it’s either the last stop for you, or because you knew there was a hook and you were going to make it to the top or you were going to fall to the bottom, and Chicago has that element,” he said.
It’s a rough city that has the actors in these dramas taking notice of everything that has to do with Chi-Town, from the movies being set there, to the weather, to the harsh reality that’s broadcast on the news each night.
S. Epatha Merkerson, who made the jump from Law and Order over to Chicago Med, said she’s more aware of the inner city violence now that she’s living in Chicago.
“It’s all rather new to me, in terms of that connection. I’ve been watching it on the news, and I don’t know how we can do a show in Chicago without having that discussion,” she said
Working in Chi has Chicago PD stars Jon Seda and Laroyce Hawkins even more interested to see Spike Lee’s new flick.
“I definitely want to see it, because it is something that’s close to us. I love Spike Lee. I love his work, so I’d like to see what kind of twist he’s putting into it,” Jon Seda said. “Honestly, I don’t know too much of what it’s about, but if you just go by the name Chi-Raq, it’s pretty intense. I’m interested in seeing it because we are working in Chicago, so there is a little connection in that for me.”
Laroyce understands that the title of the film is intended to grab your attention. “The name definitely brings a lot of attention to the film. I’m not familiar with the film at all, but I heard it had a lot of musical elements to it and it’s borrowing concepts from plays,” he explained, before saying he’s a big fan of Spike. “I just hope we can walk away from the film and learn something if it’s called Chi-Raq and deals with the turmoils that take place in Chicago. I hope that it identifies with the problems a little bit, and we walk away from it having learned how to respond and react from the morals that the movie depicts for us.”
On Chicago Med, Brian Tee – who plays Dr. Ethan Choi – talked about how his trauma section is called Baghdad on the show. He also understands the importance of Chicago’s moniker.
“I don’t know where Chi-Raq was established or dubbed; it’s a phrase that people in Chicago have kind of embraced. You can call it in a negative light and some people take some kind of pride in it, and maybe you can explain it better than I can, but we didn’t want to use Chi-Raq as far as a treatment center room, we wanted to name it something else – because Chi-Raq is itself its own thing,” Tee explains. “Us being Chicago Med, putting those things together like you just did was our intention, but I think it’s there for a reason, but it’s an unfortunate reason. What I love about the show is that it’s nothing we are trying to hide from. This is Chicago, shit happens. It’s one of the most violent craziest cities in the United States; it has more deaths than any other city in America and the world. We have to talk about it, because if we don’t, we are doing it a disservice.”
Dick Wolf and the good folks over at NBC take good care of Chicago, and judging from the first episode of Chicago Med, you really get to see how complex the show structure is and how they all mesh together.
Chicago Med airs every Tuesday night at 9pm, Chicago Fire at 10 pm, and Chicago PD Wednesdays at 10pm.
PHOTO CREDIT: NBC