The director of Moonlight brings a fascinating, alternate reality to Amazon

Director Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight took the 2017 Oscars by storm, scoring eight nominations and three wins, including Best Picture, and this week marks the arrival of Jenkins’ first TV series.

Adapated from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Underground Railroad is set in an alternate-reality version of 19th-century America, during the era of slavery.

The Underground RailroadAmazon Prime VideoThe 10-episode series follows a young slave named Cora (Thuso Mbedu) as she embarks on a desperate bid for freedom. After escaping from her Georgia plantation, she makes a run for the rumoured Underground Railroad in hopes of being smuggled to safety.

What she discovers, however, is that the Underground Railroad isn’t a metaphorical name for a covert network of abolitionists, but an actual, literal railroad, with engineers and conductors, travelling on a secret network of tracks via subterranean tunnels throughout the Antebellum South.

The only thing standing between Cora and her freedom is Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), a notorious slave catcher on an obsessive mission to find and capture her—at any cost.

“This show isn’t a show about slavery. It’s a show about the character Cora,” Jenkins explained in an interview with Shadow and Act.

“I think when we talk about slavery, in a way, we almost dehumanize the folks who were enslaved against their will. We almost rob them of their personhood. We assume the condition of being enslaved was the totality of their experience and the totality of their humanity,” he added. “I want to have the opportunity to go past the assumptions of the conditions of an enslaved person and past the reductions of humanity of an enslaved person.”

The Underground Railroad begins streaming Friday, May 14th on Amazon Prime Video