'The Chair' on Netflix — everything you need to know about Sandra Oh's university comedy

Sandra Oh stars in Netflix comedy The Chair.
Sandra Oh stars in Netflix comedy The Chair. (Image credit: Netflix)

Sandra Oh is trying a spot of comedy in The Chair which will transport viewers into the hilarious high-pressured world of a failing university English department. Killing Eve’s Sandra plays the woman tasked with trying to save a real sinking ship.

Shooting for the comedy-drama, which comes from the creators Game of Thrones, began in February this year and also boasts Transparent star Jay Duplass and Holland Taylor from Two and a Half Men among the cast.

So here’s everything we know so far about the Netflix series The Chair, including Sandra Oh's take on the comedy and her character.

The Chair release date on Netflix

Filming wrapped on The Chair in Pittsburgh in April and the 6 half-hour episodes land on Netflix on Friday August 20 2021.  

What's the plot?

The Chair has been described as a "dramedy" and follows Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh) as she navigates her new role as the chair of a failing English department at the prestigious Pembroke University. Ji-Yoon is faced with plenty of challenges and some high expectations, especially as she’s the first woman to head up the department and one of the few staff members of color at the university. But luckily she has witty, no-nonsense Professor Joan Hambling (Holland Taylor), who’s her close friend and confidante, to help her meet the dizzying demands of her new role.

The Chair

'The Chair' stars (from right) Sandra Oh, Nana Mensah and Holland Taylor. (Image credit: Netflix)

The Chair cast — Sandra Oh on playing Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim

Sandra Oh, who’s also acting as executive producer of The Chair, plays Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim, Pembroke University’s new English Department Chair and the first woman and person of color in the role. 

"I feel like Ji-Yoon is the closest character to myself that I've ever played,’ says Oh. ‘She is, like many women, busy, working hard, taking care of an elderly parent, taking care of her child, and working full time. 

"She is deeply in love with literature and her students, and she's at a point in her professional life where she’s ready to make a change in the institution. In her first year as chair, she is taking on patriarchy, sexism, ageism and what it means to be a single mom, being stuck between two cultures and speaking two languages. It’s all good subject matter for comedy.

"The Chair explores how behind the times higher education can be when it should be at the forefront of thought. It could be a place where movements begin or young people are really starting to explore concepts or opinions for the first time. You see the English department try to muddle their way through this controversial event.

"The Chair is about many things. Mostly, what it’s like to live right now with all the things that I think everyone is going through – questioning things, questioning institutions, questioning the education system."

Sandra Oh found fame and fans as Cristina Yan in the hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy and has won two Golden Globes, both for Grey’s Anatomy and for her role as Eve Polastri in Killing Eve. She’s also set to star in the horror film Umma later this year, as well as the eagerly awaited final series of Killing Eve, which will air next year.

She also lent her voice to the Netflix animation Over The Moon, plus the animated series Invincible which arrived on Amazon Prime earlier this year.

Sandra Oh in The Chair on Netflix.

Sandra Oh plays Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim in The Chair. (Image credit: Netflix)

Sandra Oh in Killing Eve.

The Chair star Sandra Oh with her Killing Eve co-stars. (Image credit: BBC)

The Chair cast — who else is starring

As well as Holland Taylor, other series regulars include Jay Duplass (Transparent) as fellow staff member Bill Dobson, Nana Mensah (Bonding), who plays Ji-Yoon’s close colleague Yaz McKay, Bob Balaban (The Politician) as set-in-his-ways Professor Elliot Rentz, as well as Everly Carganilla (from Netflix family drama Yes Day) as Ji-Yoon’s precocious young daughter.

Jay Duplass as Bill Dobson in The Chair.

Jay Duplass as Bill Dobson in 'The Chair'. (Image credit: Netflix)

The Chair

Ji-Yoon calls a staff meeting in 'The Chair'. (Image credit: Netflix)

Is there a trailer for The Chair on Netflix?

Yes, after a teaser trailer for The Chair dropped in late June, a new full-length trailer is now available. The new trailer reveals more of the plot, which sees Oh's character taking over the department as scandal hits involving a professor she appears to have a romantic history with. Let the craziness commence.

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.