You May Be Missing Out on Underground

I'm the type of guy who doesn't fall head-over-heels in love with television shows too often. Perhaps it's because some of my favorites wound up canceled and/or falling off the tracks too soon (examples of this include Revolution, Arrested Development, Heroes, and countless others). Whatever the case may be, it usually takes a while for me to warm up to a series. Even Empire, a show whose praises I sing just as loud as its failures I dissect, took me a couple episodes to completely dive in. Up until this season, I can say that the only show of recent memory that pulled me in instantaneously was How To Get Away With Murder and that's mostly because Viola Davis is a GAWDESS when it comes to her acting prowess. 

Well, that and it focused on hot-button issues, such as race and sexuality, without becoming obsessed with them--to a degree. Oh, and Asher is actually, dudebro and all, one of my favorite characters on TV at the moment. He's like Suits' Louis Litt mixed in with some of my college friends (in other words, he's goofy and has great intentions with very crappy execution).

Suffice to say, HTGAWM is a show that grabbed my attention like no other.

That is, until I found Underground, a series created by Heroes writers Misha Green and Joe Pokaksi that focuses on the Underground Railroad, slavery, and a bevy of "we need to talk about these things now" topics. 

Featuring an amazing ensemble cast including Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Christopher Meloni, and Aldis Hodge, the series recently debuted on WGN to pretty rave reviews. For those who've yet to be initiated, Underground tackles race relations and slavery in a way that's typically unseen when discussing these topics. As Hodge said in a recent interview with TVLine, it's a series that allows "this culture, black enslaved Americans, [to be] celebrated and beautified." The characters aren't exactly just "woe is me because slavery" caricatures. They're, three episodes in, pretty fleshed-out people, on both sides of the issue (slaves and those who choose to help them and slavers/slavecatchers).

Without giving too much away, Christopher Meloni's August Pullman is pretty morally ambiguous to the point you kind of hate-cheer him at times. For instance, watch his badassery in the first episode...then wait for his reappearance about twenty minutes later. You'll see what I mean. On the opposite side, you've got Smollett-Bell's Rosalee, who isn't as doe-eyed as she appears. There's some fire behind that docile exterior. All in all, these characters feel real, and I feel the weight of their actions.

On top of the overall (smart) badassery of many characters, the eclectic soundtrack stands out. It's bold in a way that still makes sense. It's jarring to hear "Wicked Games" play during a slave party, but it works. Oh, my God, does it work!

But, in the midst of midseason debut fever and the series' awesome, many potential fans haven't had a chance to catch it. Is it because we "live in a 'post-racial' society" and it's impolite to talk about slavery? I'd like to think that's a foolish accusation. This so-called "post-racial" society is the perfect time to have a series like this. Why? Because racism is still alive and well. How can we combat the sins of our forefathers if we don't acknowledge they happened? And Underground does that in a way that's fresh and inventive.

I'm trying not to sound too fanboyish, mainly because many shows I "cape" for, they go off the rails instantaneously. Well, that and I like to be somewhat objective when reviewing series. But, go watch Underground. If you haven't seen it, you're missing out on some great television

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