Last watched March 2017
Set on a plantation in Macon, Georgia, Underground is the story of “the Macon 7” – 7 slaves who escaped and made their way to the North with the help of the Underground Railroad.
I watched 3 episodes of the Roots miniseries before I had to have a wee break. It was so bleak and gruelling that it took me some time to come back to it. I recognise that’s the point, and that it’s an important one. Underground, however, doesn’t feel as gruelling. I think this is because it’s direction is one of hope (and escape) as opposed to an exploration of the realities of generational slavery and how that shapes a person.
I especially appreciate the nuanced look at the sexual relationship between Ernestine and her master, Tom Macon. It is clever and unflinching in putting the spotlight on what consent looks like (or, rather, doesn’t) in that scenario.
I won’t go into too much detail about my opinions on the show – because they honestly don’t matter. Instead, it’s worth reading opinions from people of colour.
That being said, I’ve started the second season and they are doing something that I really dislike: including all old characters who ‘coincidentally’ run into each other. I’m going to watch this show till the end (and I suggest you do, too) but I hate it when the same characters are played out again and again. The world is so big, diverse and chaotic. Unless there’s a very, very specific reason for someone to run into someone else, it just feels claustrophobic to keep on the exactly the same cast after they’ve all experienced such a diaspora.
Genre: historical fiction, historical drama, US drama
Pros: black woman written (!), woman directed, woman lead production, diverse cast
Cons: as mentioned in opinion, also, more queers!
Would approach with caution if: you have difficulty with plotlines around slavery, rape, murder, the hunting of people, abortion, lynching. Probably a lot more. It’s just pretty heavy.
Can be found: Stan
Accessibility: subtitles and closed captions
If you liked this, I would suggest: Roots