It's always a treat to watch Sandra Oh (of Grey's Anatomy and Killing Eve fame) star in literally anything. It’s undoubtedly one reason why Netflix's The Chair created so much buzz when it premiered in August 2021 on the streaming network. And, true to form, Oh was phenomenal in the series' freshman season. Also phenomenal? The rest of the ensemble cast, including Jay Duplass, Bob Balaban, Nana Mensah, David Morse, and Holland Taylor. It was intelligent, funny, and deftly dealt with complex topics. All of which is to say, fans need to know if The Chair Season 2 will happen — especially now that the chatter surrounding Oh getting an Emmy for her role in the series is picking up. So, what's the word?
Before diving into the current status, it helps to look back through a critical lens. RogerEbert.com editor Brian Tallerico gave the series a glowing review when it premiered, though he did note that the first six episodes felt more like an opening chapter than anything else. He wrote, "The first season of Netflix's new dramedy The Chair feels like a prologue. Not only is the entire season shorter than The Irishman (six episodes at half an hour each), but it has a habit of introducing so many interesting ideas and characters only to then pull back from them, leaving you with the impression that this is all foreshadowing for a deeper story in season two. This isn't that harsh a criticism — The Chair is breezy, funny, and often very smart. It's just that it's the rare Netflix show that left me wanting more instead of watching the clock."
For fans, that probably sounds like more proof The Chair Season 2 should get the go-ahead from Netflix. However, it's also a reminder that even people who enjoyed the show felt it started slowly, which could spell trouble for the fledgling series. But don't stress yet; here's everything to know about The Chair's fate.
What is The Chair Season 1 about?
Warning: Spoilers ahead! This article contains plot points pertinent to the series.
In the series' first season, Oh plays Professor Ji-Yoon Kim, who has just been promoted to the appointment of English Department Chair at Pembroke University — the first female ever to hold the position at the traditionalist school and a woman of color at that. But while Kim considers it a huge honor and opportunity to effect change, she soon learns it's a many-thorned rose.
A semi-satirical look at the patriarchal academic world, The Chair Season 1 shows a school struggling to attract students, with older staff practically being shuffled out the door. It centers on Kim struggling to cope with the dizzying demands of being the first woman of color to chair the prestigious English department while balancing life as a single mother to an adoptive daughter in a boundary-testing phase.
Has The Chair been renewed yet?
If you were hoping to find The Chair Season 2 release date here, you won't yet. Currently, the fate of the series remains up for debate. Data collected by What's On Netflix reveals that while the series was a favorite among those who watched it, it didn't have the big viewership numbers of many freshman Netflix series. Historically, series with low initial viewership have gotten the ax from the streamer.
Oh herself acknowledges that a second season of The Chair seems unlikely. On the Variety Awards podcast in February 2022, she said, "No one's called me, so I'm guessing [Season 2 is] not happening. I would have loved it because I just thought that there was so much material there to potentially explore ... I'm just happy that it happened; it was a great experience. But I am sad that it's over."
However, Netflix has yet to officially confirm the cancellation or issue any statement about the show's renewal status. Doomsayers will insist that this further points to an imminent cancellation. But if you want to find a silver lining, you could say that no news is good news. In fact, if they hold off long enough and Oh does receive an Emmy nod for her role, that could tip the streamer in favor of picking The Chair back up.
Just don't hold your breath.
What could fans expect from The Chair Season 2?
It's impossible to predict what could happen in The Chair Season 2, especially with the likelihood of cancellation being high. But if it does get renewed by some chance (hold onto hope!), it would probably continue to confront systemic issues like racism, sexism, and more in the academic world.
Amanda Peet, who created the series, told Variety that she melded two ideas together to create the show. She explained, "I really wanted to write a romantic comedy, and I was working on this movie idea for Jay Duplass about a widower who was just coming back to life, but I was also interested in writing about a female supervisor who is very close allies with a colleague who transgresses. They were separate ideas in my head, and then I started thinking about what's going on on campuses these days and the generational tension — I loved this idea of having young idealists and then people whose idealism had softened and then older folks who once thought of themselves as progressive but are now just seen as part of the system, part of the white patriarchy."
Hopefully, if the series ever returns, she can continue to explore those issues.