Season 2 premiered Wednesday, March 8 at 10/9c on WGN America (Streaming on Hulu)
COMMITMENT: 10 hour-long episodes that are way more action-adventure thriller than dry history lesson
WHY YOU SHOULD CATCH UP NOW: We know slavery stories can be a lot. They can dredge up bad feelings or, on a more benign level, seem repetitive. Not so with WGN America's Underground, a story about a group of people making the daring escape from a Georgia plantation to the North. Think of the series more as an escape thriller -- and a compelling one at that as it's full of sex, betrayal and intrigue -- that's even more mind-blowing when you consider that its stories about people using their cunning, creativity and resiliency to break free are based on real American history. Among the central players are Noah (Aldis Hodge), a natural leader, Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) an initially timid woman who finds ferocious courage, and Elizabeth Hawkes (Jessica De Gouw) a white socialite-turned-abolitionist who risks everything to help slaves to freedom. They, among others, give their frequently heart-pounding, emotionally gutting scenes urgency as they summon unthinkable courage amid terrible choices. The net result is a story that sucks you in, reframes what you thought you knew about slavery and depictions of it and still feels relevant today -- especially with a soundtrack that includes tunes from contemporary artists including Kanye West and The Weeknd.
CHEAT SHEET: The whole first season is great, but if you're pressed for time, watch the pilot and then the last two episodes of Season 1 -- when the squad's best laid plans have taken drastic turns and set up the situation for Season 2. -- Malcolm Venable