May 4, 2021
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The Underground Railroad review: Barry Jenkins’ fantasy series is a triumph

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In Barry Jenkins’ 10-hour historical fantasy miniseries The Underground Railroad, regret is generational, as easily passed down in a family as eye color or hair texture. The Underground Railroad, adapted by the Moonlight director from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2016 novel, takes place in Antebellum Georgia. Yet it’d be a mistake to call the series a slave narrative. There’s only pain and suffering in a genre originally constructed to end slavery by explaining the horrors of plantation life to Northern white readers.

That gaze leapt from literature’s pages to dominate contemporary movie screens in films like Amistad, 12 Years a Slave, The Birth of a Nation, and Antebellum. Jenkins eliminates that gaze, using…

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