See how HBO Max's South Side paid homage to Ferris Bueller's Day Off
South Side (TV Series)
On Thursday, the HBO Max comedy South Side released a new batch of season 2 episodes, one of which inventively pay homage to the classic teen comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the beloved film with which it shares a Windy City setting. To give you a feel for the unique tribute, EW has an exclusive clip of the episode above.
"We certainly set out to create a love letter to an iconic Chicago movie, but we wanted to do it in a unique way," Chandra Russell tells EW, discussing "Turner's and Brenda's Day Off," which she co-wrote and stars in with Alisha Cowan.
While the episode lets viewers see a new side of Russell's fan-favorite cop character Officer Turner, it also spotlights a new character on the series about entrepreneurial community members in the South Side of Chicago: Cowan's Brenda Cole, a popular actress on its show within the show, Chicago Shields.
In what Russell calls "a really original story for Turner and Brenda that certainly shares DNA with Ferris Bueller," Turner helps her friend Brenda flee the set of her show and go on an adventure that, like in the iconic 1986 John Hughes film, is about "people who are ultimately trying to just experience joy and escape the mundane routine. These free spirits that are literally running from these rule followers."
As the writer-actress explains, "One of our goals on this show is to make something really funny. Our second goal is to subvert the typical way Chicago's been experienced on film and television, and usually it's very white and male and North Side–centric." She references the aforementioned Ferris and Blues Brothers, but is quick to add that she and the show's team love those films. Most film and television set on the south side of the city, however, is "very violent," adds Russell, who hails from that part of town. "So we just wanted to create something a little more representational of our South Side experience."
In this tribute to Matthew Broderick's breakout film, the focus is instead on "Black women out here helping liberate each other from mundane experiences and just pursuing joy," says the actress.
In terms of which Ferris Bueller's Day Off archetypes the leading ladies fit into, Russell says they rotate depending on the scene. "But I do think Ferris is mostly Brenda, Cameron is mostly Turner," and Sloane is mostly Keisha, the show's scene-stealing, overbearing basketball mom played by Nefetari Spencer.
Throughout the episode's half-hour runtime, the trio does the South Side version of Ferris's activities, meaning a White Sox game instead of a Cubs game, and a stroll through the DuSable Museum of African American History rather than the Art Institute of Chicago.
The standout scene, though, comes when the women arrive at a fancy restaurant, are denied entry, and then pull a ruse even more ridiculous than a teenage Sausage King of Chicago: trying to pretend that one of them is Australian pop star Sia.
"Somebody threw that out, and the [writers'] room just erupted with laughter because it was just such a crazy comparison, but it also was the perfect comparison," says Russell. "This is a woman who you really, generally don't know what she looks like. So it was like something we could get away with, which is also just the silliness of saying Sia is a Black woman."
The hilarious sequence is also an important character beat that exemplifies Turner and Cole's perseverance and ingenuity. "They are hell-bent on this day being a success, and nobody is getting in the way," says the actress. "'No, no, no, twist the wig, girl. Do what must be done.'"
In the final stretch of the pair's extended work break, the two mirror Ferris and Cameron in how "underneath, both characters are struggling with family problems," says Russell. She cites her proudest moment of the episode as Cowan's climatic scene in which she channels Alan Ruck by kicking Cole's convertible down a hill.
"I was just so proud of Alisha Cowan in that moment," Russell recalls. "She is a writer first. This is kind of her first big acting moment, and I was just so proud watching my girl do that, and get deep, and feel things, and really carry that moment, and bring it to life."
Taking it back to the comedy, she adds "I also love how quickly that emotional moment turns into hilarity when Keisha, always being Keisha, is like, 'Girl, gon' head and give me that car.'"
South Side season 2 drops its final batch of episodes Nov. 25. on HBO Max.
Video courtesy of HBO Max.
South Side (TV Series)
A web of entrepreneurial characters who reside in the South Side of Chicago pursue joy and success in frequently hilarious ways.
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