Coronavirus homestay: Miss the sights and sounds of Chicago? Experience the city via your favorite TV shows

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If you’re self-quarantined at home, you might find yourself missing the sights and sounds of Chicago. Fear not, here is a (non-comprehensive) roundup of shows — old and new — that are shot in the city. OK, we’ll fudge it: Some are just “set in” Chicago.


The classic hospital drama ran for 15 seasons on NBC (1994-2009) and it’s the show that made Noah Wyle, Julianna Margulies and George Clooney household names — the latter of whom, as Dr. Doug Ross, was Clooney as his Clooney-est. Though shot in Los Angeles, it periodically filmed in Chicago and it got a lot right about the city, including the possibility of snow in May. Hulu

‘Chicago Fire,’ ‘Chicago P.D.’ and ‘Chicago Med’

We could all probably benefit from the reassuring presence of Eamonn Walker’s fire chief right about now; on “Chicago Fire,” the man is cool under pressure. Real-world first responders and health-care providers are front of mind these days, and if you find yourself craving the tried-and-true formula of this NBC franchise, episodes from the season are available on and Hulu. But if you want to rewatch this trio of Dick Wolf dramas from the beginning, it can get confusing — and expensive. For “Chicago Fire,” you can’t do it without forking over as much $40 for each season on Amazon Prime. Similar story for “Med.” But “P.D.” doesn’t follow that pattern: Seasons 1-5 (out of a total of 7) are free to Amazon Prime members., Hulu, Amazon Prime Video

‘South Side’

I love this show, full stop. A comedy about the farcical daily grind of working-class black people on Chicago’s South Side, the storylines spiral out from a furniture and appliance rental store called Rent-T-Own. Over 10 episodes in Season 1, a large ensemble cast inhabits a world that is both recognizable and heightened by absurdity. This might be the most Chicago show on TV, past or present, and it comes from Diallo Riddle and Chicago natives (and brothers) Bashir and Sultan Salahuddin. A second season is set to begin shooting this summer, assuming business is back to usual by then. The first season is free On Demand or via if you are a cable subscriber; if your cable provider isn’t listed, Comedy Central lets you sign up for 24-hour viewing pass. Or you can pony up $20 on Amazon. Comedy Central, Amazon Prime Video

‘The Good Wife’

Julianna Margulies stepped out of her “ER” scrubs and into a pair of high heels and an exquisite high-end wardrobe for this role, playing a lawyer at a Chicago law firm. The show originally aired on CBS from 2009-2016. The whole shebang was shot in New York (and frankly, looked it), instead using its Chicago setting as a shorthand for “everything is corrupt here!” — which yes, but no, but … well, yes. Hulu

‘The Good Fight’

Christine Baranski stars in this “Good Wife” spinoff which (like its predecessor) is shot in New York and set in Chicago — but this time around the show actually acknowledges Chicago’s substantial black population. It’s true that the show can’t help but throw in a tired Cubs/Sox joke here and there, but I’ve always appreciated that the action takes place in and around a high-powered black law firm. I’d like to think the real-world Chicago law firm of Knight, Morris & Reddick (founded by three black women attorneys) is in some way the inspiration for the show’s fictional law firm of Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart. Season 4 premieres April 9. CBS All Access

‘The Chi’

I’ve covered the TV beat in Chicago for two decades and, for most of it, I often wondered when someone was going to make a TV show about Chicago that’s really about Chicago? Lena Waithe was the first to get a show greenlit that actually feels like it was created by someone who grew up in this city (which she did) . The focus is specifically on the lives of black people on the South Side — their joys, their frustrations, their humor, their fears. Season 3 is set to premiere in July with Waithe playing a fictional version of the city’s mayor. The new season also comes with some ugly baggage: Star Jason Mitchell was fired off the show last season amid concerns about his behavior with co-stars off-camera. Showtime (free 30-day trial available before May 3)


I had such high hopes for this show about a Chicago mayor (Kelsey Grammer) grappling with threats to his power. It ran for two seasons (2011-2012) and never quite delivered on its promised excoriation of backroom wrangling and personal failings, but it stands out as the first major series to take up residence at Cinespace, the soundstage complex on the city’s West Side. And I’ve always been fascinated by what showrunner Farhad Safinia told me about Chicago’s architecture working as inspiration for the show’s underlying themes: “You walk around this city and you go, ‘Someone must have had an enormous sense of ego and inflated sense of self to build it.’ Not just the size of the buildings, but the insane details of the architecture. They feel like operatic stages. And there is something both ridiculous about that, and yet incredibly inspiring at the same time.” Amazon Prime Video ($10 per season); also YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu

‘Early Edition’

Kyle Chandler — need I say more? Years before he was Coach “clear eyes, full hearts” Taylor on “Friday Night Lights,” he starred on this Chicago-shot CBS drama that aired from 1996-2000 as a guy who receives a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper a day in advance. The Sun-Times, to be exact. Armed with advance knowledge of the next day’s events, he tries to prevent those tragedies. The show isn’t streaming anywhere, but all four seasons are available on DVD for $50 on Amazon.


Chicago indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg (“Drinking Buddies”) branched out into TV with this filmed-in-Chicago anthology series. Each episode is a stand-alone, bite-sized snapshot of young Chicagoans dodging and weaving their way through modern romance. It features Dave Franco, Orlando Bloom, Marc Maron and more. The locations are specific to Chicago: Dark Matter Coffee on Western Ave. Chicago Filmmaker’s old location in Andersonville. Lost Lake Tiki bar on Diversey. The BP Pedestrian Bridge that snakes overt Columbus Drive to Millennium Park. It’s a resolutely Chicago project. Netflix

‘The Bob Newhart Show’

Bob Newhart is Chicago through and through — born and raised here and for a time he worked as a Chicago ad man — so it’s fitting that his first major sitcom would be set here. Sure, the sitcom itself (airing from 1972-1978) was shot in Los Angeles but the memorable opening credits are a love letter to ’70s-era downtown Chicago. That iconic theme song? “We wanted it to sound like the band Chicago, but never quite got there,” the show’s co-creator Dave Davis told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018. As for the footage: “I wanted it to be Bob on his way home. We scouted Chicago and picked the most photogenic sections and interesting camera angles.” Hulu

‘Good Times’

People think of this as a Norman Lear show, and, sure, it is. But it was created by Chicago native Eric Monte, who based it on his own experiences growing up in Cabrini-Green. Monte isn’t a household name, but he should be. He broke into Hollywood with no connections or formal training, and ended up writing for Lear and co-creating “Good Times” before quitting halfway through the second season due to frustrations with the experience. He would go on to write the classic Chicago film “Cooley High” and create yet another sitcom, “What’s Happening!!” Like “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Good Times” (which aired from 1974-1980) was shot in L.A., but those opening credits? Pure Chicago. Hulu


The long-running Showtime series is set on Chicago’s South Side — though never explicitly said, it’s likely the Canaryville neighborhood — and though all the interiors are shot on an L.A. soundstage, cast and crew come to Chicago to shoot exteriors for two weeks of every season. Granted, the Gallagher homestead we see on camera isn’t even on the South Side (the house is on the West Side), but the show really does give the illusion that the whole thing is shot in Chicago. Showtime, Hulu, Netflix


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