UNDERGROUND: An Electrifying First Episode (spoiler free review)
I went into Underground nervous about what kind of show it would be. There are so many ways a story like this can go bad; even with the best of intentions. A few minutes into Underground and I was speechless. Everything including the acting, writing, music, and costumes came together seamlessly.
From the start Underground lived up to being called an action thriller. When the people behind the series described it as an action thriller I was instantly intrigued. There are so many different ways to tell stories that involve enslaved Black Americans and action thriller is one that I haven’t seen in a while (or ever?) as most are promoted as dramas. Most are promoted as dramas because of the heaviness that comes with enslavement. Many of these films were made to show the cruelness of slavery, instead of the diversity that came with the situation. While I am fine with dramas about slavery, I know there are other ways to tell the stories of enslaved persons. Because this show decided to tell the story in a different way it felt fresh. Instead of showing the stereotype of slave life the fullness of life on a plantation was displayed. There are so many shades of gray in the storytelling just as there are in real life. By showing this dynamic the characters and situations were able to truly come to life.
The story was complemented by the direction style which I also really enjoyed. Throughout the entire episode I tried to find a word for how it made me feel. I finally came up with the word ‘electric’. The way the camera is used adds tension and energy to the show. This tension and energy is exactly how I imagine slaves planning an escape felt. Various camera angles are used to effect but they never take away from the story. I truly felt as if I was ‘in’ the situation with the characters. In regards to historical accuracy I believe everything I saw in episode 1 it all comes off as realistic. I read a lot of non-fiction about slavery and some of the scenes are word for word like events described in slave narratives. There really is no need to embellish in my opinion. The stories of enslaved black people and those that owned them are engaging and diverse enough for multiple series and films. History is exciting enough on its own. And while I’ve only seen one episode, I believe Underground is on its way to proving just that.