It’s official; all 10 episodes of The Underground Railroad will premiere on 14 May via Prime Video. And, considering the limited TV series (which is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead) comes courtesy of Academy Award-winner Barry Jenkins, a lot of people are already counting down the days until it becomes available for streaming.
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Here’s what you need to know about the series.
What’s the plot of The Underground Railroad?
As fans of the original text will know already, The Underground Railroad is set in an alternate history, where the 19th century Underground Railroad was a literal railroad that American slaves used to flee the South and find freedom.
“After escaping a Georgia plantation for the rumoured 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,” reads the TV show’s official synopsis.
It continues: “Over the course of her journey, Cora is pursued by Ridgeway, 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.
“And, as she travels from state to state, Cora contends with the legacy of the mother that left her behind and her own struggles to realise a life she never thought was possible.”
Who stars in The Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad stars newcomer Thuso Mbedu as Cora, Joel Edgerton as Ridgeway, and Chase W. Dillon as Homer, a young boy who is part of Ridgeway’s gang.
Aaron Pierre, William Jackson Harper, Sheila Atim, Amber Gray, Peter De Jersey, Chukwudi Iwuji, Damon Herriman, Lily Rabe, Irone Singleton, Mychal-Bella Bowman, Marcus “MJ” Gladney, Jr., Will Poulter and Peter Mullan round out the cast.
Is there a trailer for The Underground Railroad?
“Nothing was given, all was earned. Hold on to what belongs to you.”
You can watch the official trailer for The Underground Railroad below:
What are people saying about The Underground Railroad?
On the whole, the response to the first trailer for The Underground Railroad has been hugely positive.
“This has to be one of the best trailers I have seen in a long time,” reads one comment on YouTube.
“The acting, visuals, production, and cinematography look absolutely perfect.”
Another says: “Barry Jenkins is about to go from winning the Oscars to winning the Emmys!”
And still one more states: “I was wondering how they would capture the magic realism of the novel.
“The answer? Evidently perfectly.”
Over on Twitter, though, some viewers have expressed their unease over the series’ premise.
“Stop with all the slave movies/ series. We get it,” reads one tweet flatly.
“Please stop producing slave movies, and please stop producing Black trauma movies,” pleads another.
And one more asks: “Wait, another one? Is this all we have to offer in entertainment? Enough of this. Please.”
What has Barry Jenkins said about The Underground Railroad?
Jenkins, who serves as showrunner and directs all 10 episodes of the limited series, has himself acknowledged that the premise is an upsetting one.
“It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done, not because it was difficult to make physically, but just emotionally,” he said in an IndieWire interview.
Jenkins continued: “I’ve never cried on set with anything I’ve made. On this one, at least once every two weeks somebody would be like ‘you alright man?’ I would have to walk… off the set for 10 or 15 minutes because I was just distraught.
“Our guidance counsellor pulled me off set one day and would not let me continue to direct.”
When will The Underground Railroad become available for streaming?
As already mentioned, all 10 episodes of The Underground Railroad will premiere on 14 May via Prime Video, in more than 240 countries and territories around the world.
Will you be watching?
Images: Prime Video
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.