(Note: This review makes reference to some character and plot situations, but does not contain spoilers.)
America has a complex relationship with its own history, especially when it comes to slavery. It is difficult to confront the realities of just how much suffering one human being is capable of inflicting on another. Slavery is a subject many Americans would rather not think about, or else, as Azie Mira Dungey’s Ask a Slave webseries demonstrates, are so badly misinformed about that it may as well have been forgotten. And today, slavery is something many look back on with a mixture of horrified fascination and an unwillingness to accept just how bad things were. Films like Twelve Years a Slave take on the “acceptance” angle, painting a dark, heavy, brutal picture of the realities of the period, unwilling to let viewers escape the truth of what has been done. The “fascination” angle is represented as well in films like Django Unchained, wherein the filmmakers take a kind of dark glee in recapturing the mindset of the time, with some rather uncomfortable results.
Enter WGN America’s new series, Underground, which succeeds in nearly every way that Django Unchained failed.