CNN’s ‘Chicagoland’ Premiere: Reality Show Glitz vs. Real-Life Grit

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CNN’s Thursday night premiere of its eight-episode, Robert Redford-produced “Chicagoland” documentary series was preceded by plenty of pomp. The show’s first episode had been screened for Chicago media and influencer types at an invite-only event at the Bank of America Theater on Tuesday, allowing for a steady stream of advance think pieces and media appearances to roll in.

But did the show’s premiere live up to the buzz that it would offer a “compelling” and “unflinching” look at the problems facing a city not that different from any other American city? Yes, and no.

For any Chicago resident who’s been paying attention over the last two years or so, the first episode of “Chicagoland” didn’t stray too far from the mostly familiar storyline of Chicago’s historic teachers’ strike, followed by the heated battle over closing more than 50 public schools — a battle carried out amid the backdrop of the city’s ballooning homicide rate.

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