Finally, a Chicago sitcom that actually feels like Chicago. South Side, originally on Comedy Central and now streaming on HBO Max, is returning December 8 for its third season. (Keep an eye out for Chicago magazine’s cameo in episode 5.) Hyperspecific settings and insider references make this show a celebration of not just Chicago but Black Chicago. It’s also hysterically funny. Here’s a catch-up in case you missed the first 20 episodes. But, to paraphrase the CliffsNotes disclaimer, you are only denying yourself by not watching them.

Goodnight and Turner in ‘South Side’
Goodnight and Turner Photograph: Jean Whiteside/HBO Max

The Main Characters

Simon and Kareme The two best friends and recent community college grads are stuck working as repo guys for a furniture rental depot. Simon (Sultan Salahuddin) is a street-smart, business-minded dad. Kareme (Kareme Young), or K, is a low-key astronomy enthusiast and amateur sci-fi novelist. Their commitment to the hustle takes them into one absurd situation after the next, from selling black-market Viagra to running a budget ambulance service out of the back of a Rent-T-Own truck.

Sergeant Turner and Officer Goodnight One of the best onscreen cop duos ever. Turner (Chandra Russell), who is from Englewood, finds herself wrapped up in the nonsense she’s supposed to be policing, from dating an on-the-lam bad boy to buying illegal opossum furs. Then there’s Goodnight (show cocreator Bashir Salahuddin, Sultan’s brother), a blustering, incompetent wannabe detective who got reassigned to the neighborhood after a damning video of him went viral. Naturally, the two are constantly bickering, and much to Turner’s bewilderment, Goodnight, who’s Black, has an adopted white son who kills at spades. (Oh, and Salahuddin and Russell are actually married IRL, making for *chef’s kiss* comedic chemistry.)

Allen Gayle An opportunistic, scheming, bungling carpetbagger (cocreator Diallo Riddle) mudslinging on public access TV in his run for alderman? Sure sounds like Chicago politics.

The Oh-So-Chicago Plot Points

“Turner’s and Brenda’s Day Off” South Side does its own take on Ferris Bueller. Just swap in Guaranteed Rate for Wrigley, the DuSable Museum for the Art Institute, and Sia for the Sausage King of Chicago.

Harold’s mild sauce After K is denied additional mild sauce at the iconic chicken joint, he and Simon manage to re-create it and go into the catering business.

Simon learns to step K and his (real-life) twin, Q (Quincy Young), spend an episode teaching the classic local dance to Simon, who is guilty of “the worst steppin’ in Chicago since the Super Bowl Shuffle.”

The Cameos

Jeff Tweedy
Photograph: Britta Pederson/Picture Alliance

Jeff Tweedy The Wilco frontman helps Ren-T-Own employee Stacy (the Salahuddins’ sister Zuri) write a song about her absentee father, which she softly croons: “You missed my prom so you could do coke / I want to fuck you up, you fuckin’ joke.”

Vic Mensa
Photograph: Thaddaeus McAdams/Roc Nation

Vic Mensa The celebs come out to mourn Chicago’s No. 1 party promoter, and rapper Mensa offers a eulogy: “We were supposed to do so many great things together. … We were going to finally prove that giardiniera was invented by a Black man.”

Chance the Rapper
Photograph: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Chance the Rapper After countless characters ask “You know Chance?” throughout the series, he appears in season 2’s finale as Herb, a hapless and angry currency exchange worker. And if you still need another reason to watch: He’ll reportedly be back in season 3.