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TV review: Sandra Oh’s campus comedy The Chair sits very nicely indeed

© ELIZA MORSE/NETFLIXSandra Oh in The Chair
Sandra Oh delivers another bravura performance in The Chair

Were you to believe some commentators then our university campuses are now basically Children Of The Corn crossed with 1970s East Germany.

If a professor accidentally mentions Adolf Hitler then a unit of Gen Z thought- commandos will rappel into the lecture hall and take them out with a cancel grenade, and it’s all captured for clout on TikTok.

Reality is a bit less dramatic than all that but what’s going on with the university free speech debate at the moment would take about three hours to explain.

Helpfully Netflix have done just that with The Chair, a six-episode series set in a dusty American university, starring the wonderful Sandra Oh as the new chairwoman of a crumbling English department.

The students are infuriated by a well-meaning professor’s Nazi salute during a lecture and the consequences are complex and thought-provoking.

Meanwhile Oh’s Ji-Yoon Kim is handling budget cuts, decrepit staff and being a single parent to a tearaway daughter. All of which makes The Chair sound like it’s a sombre drama; remarkably it’s also the year’s best comedy, too.

“Stop saying ‘gag order’!” Ji-Yoon shouts at an assistant before adding, “Actually, no, say it as much as you want.”

Cancellations? Carry on, as long as it’s not the next series of The Chair.


The Chair is available to stream on Netflix