The Underground Railroad: Limited Series (2019)


Limited Series
The Underground Railroad

Critics Consensus

With a superb ensemble and Barry Jenkins' singular eye, The Underground Railroad delicately translates its source material into a powerfully humane series that is as challenging as it is necessary.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 84

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 174

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Episodes

Air date: May 14, 2021

When Caesar convinces Cora to escape from Randall plantation in Georgia their lives are irrevocably changed. They discover the impossible in an underground railroad which takes them on an unexpected journey and reveals the true face of America.

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Air date: May 14, 2021

Griffin, South Carolina - a seeming paradise of progress and racial harmony that hides dark secrets, especially the secrets of "Bessie" and "Christian." Meanwhile, bounty hunter Arnold Ridgeway begins his pursuit of Cora.

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Air date: May 14, 2021

Cora reaches a dangerous small town in North Carolina where she must secret away in an abolitionist's attic while putting everyone's lives in danger.

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Air date: May 14, 2021

A young Arnold Ridgeway comes of age while testing his belief in The Great Spirit.

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Air date: May 14, 2021

Captured by Ridgeway, Cora is forced to travel across the barren inferno of Tennessee. She shares the perilous journey with Jasper, a noble runaway filled with inner-strength.

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Air date: May 14, 2021

For Arnold Ridgeway, a journey home reveals that "the past is not past." And a chance encounter with a freedman named Royal gives Cora new hope.

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Air date: May 14, 2021

Let the fire burn.

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Air date: May 14, 2021

Royal brings Cora to Valentine Farm, a thriving Black community and vineyard on the bountiful Indiana frontier. Carrying the scars of her journey, Cora struggles to find peace in this new home.

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Air date: May 14, 2021

Cora's presence as a fugitive ignites tensions amongst the Valentine community. Just as she was beginning to make this her home, chaos reigns.

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Air date: May 14, 2021

In this tale of motherhood, the beginning is the end is the beginning... for both mother and daughter.

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The Underground Railroad: Limited Series Videos

Tv Season Info

From Academy Award® winner Barry Jenkins and based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad chronicles Cora Randall's (newcomer Thuso Mbedu) desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping a Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad full of engineers and conductors, and a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Over the course of her journey, Cora is pursued by Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), a bounty hunter who is fixated on bringing her back to the plantation she escaped; especially since her mother Mabel is the only one he has never caught. As she travels from state to state, Cora contends with the legacy of the mother that left her behind and her own struggles to realize a life she never thought was possible.

Cast & Crew

Joel Edgerton
Ridgeway
Amber Gray
Gloria Valentine
Fred Hechinger
Young Ridgeway
Barry Jenkins
Executive Producer
Adele Romanski
Executive Producer
Mark Ceryak
Executive Producer
Dede Gardner
Executive Producer
Jeremy Kleiner
Executive Producer
Brad Pitt
Executive Producer
Richard Heus
Executive Producer
Jacqueline Hoyt
Executive Producer
Colson Whitehead
Executive Producer
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News & Interviews for The Underground Railroad: Limited Series

Critic Reviews for The Underground Railroad Limited Series

All Critics (84) | Top Critics (36)

A truly momentous achievement that will be analyzed and discussed for years to come, Barry Jenkins' The Underground Railroad is much more than a history lesson.

May 14, 2021 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

At its strongest, The Underground Railroad isn't just a TV show for you to watch. It's a TV show that watches you.

May 14, 2021 | Full Review…

What's so striking about "The Underground Railroad" is how richly it captures the interiority of its characters, no matter how much time they're given.

May 13, 2021 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Long, hard ride with some strikingly beautiful craftsmanship to make it all feel worthwhile - at least some of the time.

May 13, 2021 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

It is heartbreaking. But it is also infuriating. If he lets the story meander a little, particularly in the middle, Jenkins never lets viewers off the hook.

May 11, 2021 | Full Review…

Anyone may feel The Underground Railroad a magnum opus, but Jenkins is clearly a creative in ascent and just getting started.

Jun 10, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

It's 10 hours of operatic storytelling and one can't help but marvel at Jenkins' composition.

Jun 10, 2021 | Full Review…

A dream of escape, precipitated by a literal yet fantasticated railway, and the journeys that dream permits [but] also a river, comprised of streams and rivulets of generations of blood... Physical passages and eras blend without fuss, with sublime ease.

Jun 7, 2021 | Rating: 10/10 | Full Review…

Jenkins told WTOP his filmmaking motto: "Walk them loud in the characters' shoes," using every ounce of visual and audial aesthetics to bring the audience into the character's emotional state.

Jun 4, 2021 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Boldly imagined, superlatively acted and frequently just plain beautiful.

Jun 2, 2021 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Jenkins has used his mark in gentle subtlety, the whole story, is filled with layers of oppression, a correlation between the past and the present and how blackness benefits those of the white person for capitalistic gain.

Jun 2, 2021 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The so-called alternative history in Jenkins' The Underground Railroad sheds little light on actual history but represents a significant distortion in the interest of racial politics.

Jun 1, 2021 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Underground Railroad: Limited Series

  • 4d ago
    This is the most beautiful camera work I have ever seen. The acting is also the best I have seen. I recommend everyone see it and also to check your political bias at the door. What is Historical Fiction? My favorite book is a book Citizen Washington. Previously, HBO's Rome was my favorite series/movie until now. Now, Underground Railroad is my favorite Historical Fiction series/movie. Historical Fiction is the best and most entertaining way to tell any true story about history. When you begin with a framework of a place and time that is fact based and known to be true, and you place characters into that framework, then that is Historical Fiction. For instance, everyone knows that each plantation had an overseer person, like this series does. Everyone knows that person was in charge of the slaves daily lives, like this movie portrays. Adding in a train, which is actually only seen for approx 10 minutes out of the entire 10 episodes, is just entertainment.
  • Jun 06, 2021
    This is like having a super angry history teacher. Oh dear god get me to recess! Do I really have to take this class? I must say the cinematography was exemplary. But Jenkins, the writer/director, doesn't seem to have a sense of dramatic rhythm. As if he doesn't understand the ideas of dramatic relief, humorous intones, ironic beauty. I haven't seen MOONLIGHT or BEALE STREET... and I guess I didn't because they just "felt" like they would be exactly as I found this series: Heavy-handed and working against its own message. As a screenwriter myself, one of my go-to reader/critics will write in the margins: "CBB." That means "Could be better." That would be my advice to Mr. Jenkins. CBB.
  • Jun 03, 2021
    Isn't actual American History rich enough in dramatic potential as it WAS, that these ridiculous twists are necessary? Why is American film making so obsessed with inventing weird storylines at all cost, often wasting tremendous cinematic resources which could otherwise yield monumental masterpieces? 4-5 stars for fresh acting, cinematography, historical background. Zero stars for (mis)using all that for just another science fiction series. But while in SciFi the future is really unknown and open to fantasizing, inventing an alternative and absolutely implausible PAST (a secret railway running under The South ~200 years ago ... daa?!), destroys any option for dramatic authenticity, and makes it all feel more like an exercise in using cinematic resources than real, significant, epic, touching, "dramatic" drama. What a shame!
  • Jun 01, 2021
    I had lots of hope for this show - although I had not read the book. Given the propensity of people to believe what is on TV to be a true representation of history, I found the following: The treatment of slaves by slaveowners was the closest to real I've seen. Once they started their journey, they lost me. First- there was always a conductor on the UR from the time the escapees left the plantation to the time they reached their final destination. Next - the UR wasn't a real railroad. You just can't change history like that. People are going to believe it was a real railroad because of this show. My family could not continue watching it after the first episode. It was just painful for the wrong reasons.
  • Jun 01, 2021
    I really wanted to appreciate this. The filing is pulls you in. The acting is top notch. But I found the way it was edited to difficult to follow. I didn't know what character or when I was looking at. And not all of the characters responded made sense to the situation they were reacting too. I really was just confused.
  • May 30, 2021
    Has some interesting moments, but at times it is extremely boring. It was like reading a book you don't like that much, but just keep reading to see how it ends. Left me frustrated and feeling I wasted a lot of time.
  • May 29, 2021
    The idea behind this series and the book is is based on is brilliant: an actual underground railroad! But that's magical realism, and magical realism is a very hard style of writing to pull off successfully. Despite all the praise it received, the novel failed to do so. I was hoping that TV would provide a better medium for this kind of story, but it does not. It is clunky and leaden.
  • May 29, 2021
    Have not watched the full season yet, but after two episodes: Pros: The acting is superb The cinematography is outstanding Cons: The train?
  • May 27, 2021
    Unrelenting graphic violence, degradation, and suffering. Who is Cora but a canvas for depicting this and little more.
  • May 26, 2021
    I had to stop watching after Ep. 4. Among the list of gripes: no character development (or poor character development, as in the case of Ridgeway), so gruesome and violent that it will alienate most viewers, consistently falls back on ham-fisted tropes, egregious lack of nuance/complexity with characters and events, pervasively grim to the point of being punishing. All in all, basically unwatchable, despite good production values. How is anyone getting through more than a few episodes? How are people saying that this show is revolutionizing the game? I understand there is an important historical perspective here but holy crap, I get nothing out of this show but pure misery. After a while, it just felt exploitative. And it's more than ten freaking hours long!!!! Painful. Just painful.

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