Celebrating the “Six Degrees of ‘One Chicago'”

In the fall of 2018, NBC began airing Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD back-to-back-to-back as a trifecta called One Chicago on Wednesday nights.

The decision generated lots of enthusiasm and a little bit of curiosity among fans of the Dick Wolf franchises. Everyone seemed to wonder: would viewers have the time and inclination to watch three hours of Windy City drama on a weeknight.

“It’s a big ask to get people to sit in front of their TV’s for three hours,” wrote Fansided.com’s Brittany Frederick midway through the season, “especially in the middle of the week, when they’re dealing with school nights and work the next morning.”

But NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt cited the lineup’s exponential potential shortly after it was announced in May 2018.

“Putting all three series on the same night will make it easier and more effective for them to ‘overlap and crossover,’” he said during a press call. “We thought it was a fun way to energize Wednesday.”

Turns out, he was correct. On Wednesday night, Med, Fire, and PD registered more than 23 million collective viewers in the 18-49-year-old demographic, earning the best numbers in their respective time slots. It was a ratings sweep for the ingenious brand.

Frederick agreed. “It’s been great fun to see all three shows together,” she wrote, “and one certainly can’t fault NBC for it because it does make for wonderful promotional material and even better ratings.”


Sharing success all over the city
In addition to earning massive support from TV viewers, NBC’s Wednesday night shows are also fueling a multilateral boom within Chicago itself. Besides keeping hundreds of professionals busy at Chicago Cinespace Film Studios, where the shows are filmed, the people and the companies that help bring the series to life are sharing the success all over the city.

Programs like the CineCares Foundation, One Chicago Inspire Youth, and the Mirkopoulos Internship Program are helping people from economically depressed neighborhoods and underprivileged backgrounds gain a foothold in the wide-ranging production industry. Partnering with the likes of Wolf Films, NBC Universal, and Chicago Local 476 Studio Mechanics Union, the efforts have so far helped dozens of people find jobs in film and production.

It’s kind of like a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon phenomenon, except instead of putting the Kevin Bacon at the center of a universe where every actor on earth is only half-a-dozen connections away from him, it puts Dick Wolf’s hit shows at the center of a robust future with exponential potential.

One Chicago indeed.

Send your TV news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.