A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages about making moral choices, caring for others, and the value of community.
Positive Role Models
Characters display bravery, loyalty, ingenuity, and selflessness.
Violence & Scariness
Graphic violence related to slavery, including physical abuse, rape. and other cruelty to humans. Characters are shown being whipped, beaten, and killed, and the blood and wounds are a point of emphasis. There are rape scenes in which overseers force slaves to procreate.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Simulated sex and female nudity. Childbirth is shown, including blood and other fluids.
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Frequent use of the "n" word and other racist speech. Mild profanity is also used throughout: "damn," "hell," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are shown drinking alcohol and smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Underground Railroad is a drama series about slavery based on Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The series takes place in an alternate version of American history, where the underground railroad (which was in real life a system of travel routes and safe houses that helped slaves escape to freedom) is an actual, literal subterranean train system. The series graphically depicts the violence perpetrated by slave owners and overseers, including physical abuse, rape, and other cruelty. Characters are shown being whipped, beaten, and killed, and the blood and wounds are a point of emphasis. There are rape scenes, in which overseers force slaves to procreate, that feature simulated sex and female nudity. Though it takes place during slavery, The Underground Railroad draws from events throughout American history to illustrate the ways in which Black Americans have been systematically discriminated against, abused, taken advantage of, and dehumanized.
Is It Any Good?
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) directs this intense, compelling drama with a sense of visual storytelling that's rarely seen on television. Jenkins helms every episode of The Underground Railroad, and his touch elevates every minute of it. The series requires commitment from its viewers, because both the aesthetics and the content can be tough to grapple with. The Underground Railroad takes an unflinching look at slavery and other atrocities perpetrated against Black Americans, and it consistently dares viewers to wrestle with those things as they watch. It also moves slowly and deliberately, and there are touches of Westworld-style puzzlebox dramas and horror (not unlike Jordan Peele's Us) that may never fully pay off. But throughout the series, Jenkins creates elliptical, powerful, and challenging images that are unlike anything else on television.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate