“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others…one ever feels his twoness-an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warrings ideals in one dark body… ” – W.E.B Dubois
UndergroundWGN is Emmy worthy and I can’t wait to see how successful it becomes. Underground follows Noah, a slave on a plantation, who seeks freedom through the Underground Railroad. He realizes, that his goal may only be possible if he assembles a group of his fellow slaves to accompany him. Of course, the show gets way more complicated than that, but that’s the general concept.
Double consciousness or shifting among the characters is extremely prevalent, which is one of the reasons I watch the show religiously. I am intrigued by the writers use of this idea coined by W.E.B Dubois way back in 1903 in his book The Soul of Black Folks. Double Consciousness, is basically in layman terms the two faces black people put on in America. We have to be black and we have to be American. We have to act one way among white people and another way when we are comfortable enough being our true selves. Essentially we have to shift to survive.
Each of the characters in this show shift or have two faces. You think you know who they really are at their core, but each week, something new is exposed and another layer is added to them. Right now, we know that Noah played by Aldis Hodge has a limp because he doesn’t want the plantation owners to know that he is a threat to them. We know that Rosalee played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell is a contented house slave, who is ready to run away by any means. We also know that August Pullman played by Christopher Meloni is a white slave catcher who pretends to be for black people but will turn them in for a cash reward instantly. There’s a lot of shifting going on as a means of survival and I am here for it all.
Why you should watch
If I can compare this show to anything else, I would say it’s like Scandal, set during slavery. The writers are superb. They keep me engaged and wanting more and although this is sensitive material, they find a balance and create some highs and lows in the episodes so you’re not emotionally drained by the conclusion. Sometimes I find myself so drawn into the storylines, I have dreams about it later on.
I know why people might want to avoid a show like this; who wants to be constantly reminded about slavery every week? I thought the same thing initially, but these characters are intriguing, even though the actual system of slavery dehumanizes them. They have feelings, and dreams just like anyone else, which is the underlying theme. Also, we have to support these shows so it can open doors for more shows to educate and acknowledge our rich stories. I am hooked and you should be too.Underground comes on every Wednesday at 10PM (EST) on WGN which is on Channel 82 if you have Cablevision. WGN is a relatively new network so don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it before. Since the show has so many twists and turns every Wednesday the cast does a twitter chat #UndergroundWGN which is awesome because you need someone to watch this show with just so you can say “Did you see that?”