Reality television typically focuses on arguments, controversy and sordid details wherever they can be dug up.
CNN’s new reality miniseries Chicagoland may break that mold for ideological reasons.
The show, which begins at 10 p.m. EST Thursday, takes a long look at the Windy City and its mayor, Rahm Emanuel. Given the city’s reputation for corruption and high murder rates, it seems like prime fodder for a news network looking to expand its reality show roster with a side of grit.
Not so fast.
Consider the ad published in Entertainment Weekly trumpeting the new show. Here are some quotes used to gin up interest:
Thanks to the Chicago Public Schools, my parents could focus on me not my deafness. I was free to learn, to play and most importantly, free to dream. – Marlee Matlin, a deaf actress best known for Children of a Lesser God.
Someone said to me once I can tell you’re from Chicago because you look me in the eyes. I’m really proud to be from Chi-Town,” actor Jeremy Piven, Entourage.
And here’s the tag line: A City Is Only as Strong as Its Leaders …
Redford described both his show and his unabashed admiration for Mayor Emanuel to CNN recently to help promote the series.
It’s painful to see the disparate parts of a city where there’s poverty, and there’s crime, but that’s not exclusive to Chicago. It’s in every city. So I think it’s important, rather than just dwelling on the negative parts. … But let’s see the other side of it. Let’s see the more positive side, because it does exist. And put the two together, and then you get a complete picture of what a city is like.
The famed actor also acknowledges his true feelings for the show’s main character.
Look, I have a high regard for Rahm Emanuel. It is not an easy job. To manage a city like Chicago with so many disparate parts to it is not an enviable task. I think that he is as qualified as anybody, but boy, it’s like being the president of the United States.
Now, is this how a supposedly fair and balanced news outlet handles the coverage of a major city via a docu-series? Perhaps the finished product will be more objective. So far, all signs point to anything but that approach.