Ever since he broke out with Moonlight, we’ve all been eager to see what director Barry Jenkins will do next. His next film, If Beale Street Could Talk, is due out later this year and now he’s tackling an entire TV series. Amazon has announced that Jenkins will direct all 11 episodes of their upcoming limited series The Underground Railroad.
For those unfamiliar with the book (or the history), here’s a brief synopsis:
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape.
The Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a network of tracks and tunnels constructed in secret beneath the very Southern soil upon which they’ve been enslaved. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, a relentless slave catcher of mythic origin, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state-by-state, seeking true freedom in a heroine’s journey carved through the soil and soul of America.
It sounds like the kind of TV series that could make waves, especially with a talented helmer like Jenkins behind the camera. Additionally, his complete involvement makes it likely that the project will be able to attract top-tier acting talent for Cora, Caesar, and Ridgeway. In any event, landing Jenkins for all eleven episodes is a major coup for Amazon, and it makes The Underground Railroad one of my most anticipated shows on the horizon.