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If you have to watch one Amazon Prime Video show this May, stream this one

A man riding a horse raises his arm in The Underground Railroad.
Amazon Prime Video

While no weather is ever guaranteed, May comes with hope for more warmth and plenty of sunshine. If you’re someone who isn’t into the heat, or you’re just looking for a great way to spend a May weekend, Amazon Prime Video has plenty of great shows that you can peruse.

Picking just one can be difficult, though, which is why we’ve stepped in to help you pick the perfect show to watch this May. The Underground Railroad originally aired in 2021 on Prime Video, and at the time, it was underseen and underdiscussed. The series, which is adapted from Colson Whitehead’s novel of the same name, imagines a version of the Antebellum South where the Underground Railroad was an actual railroad. Here are three reasons you should check out the miniseries:

It’s both fantastical and grounded in real history

The Underground Railroad - Official Trailer | Prime Video

Telling the story of a single young slave named Cora, the series follows her as she journeys through the Deep South and toward freedom. Unlike actual history, Cora’s journey takes her through what are essentially different eras of racial repression in the South. She goes from the brutality of slavery to the reproductive experiments that were conducted on Black women decades later, and along the way encounters other slaves with stories of their own.

The Underground Railroad isn’t trying to represent actual history, but in mashing together different eras and times, it reminds us of all the different ways Black people have been oppressed in the U.S.

It understands and depicts the horror of the South

Three young girls in The Underground Railroad on Amazon Prime.
Atsushi Nishijima / Amazon Studios / Amazon Prime Video

Thanks to Barry Jenkins’ expert direction, The Underground Railroad is able to juxtapose the horror of the events it depicts with the beauty of the surrounding environs. Although the South contains a brutal history of repression, it’s also one of the most sumptuous natural wonders in the entire country, and Jenkins frames that contrast beautifully.

Every frame feels like a painting, which can help even the most brutal sections of The Underground Railroad feel a little harder to watch. Of course, in some of those sequences, the brutality is the point.

It features a star-making central performance

The Underground Railroad on Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video

Jenkins made a bold choice in casting Cora, the character who explores this world firsthand. Thuso Mbedu was a total unknown when she took on the part, but she more than earned it over the course of the show’s 10 episodes. Mbedu’s Cora is at times angry, hurt, and vengeful, and all of those emotions play clearly on her face, even when she can’t muster the words to express what she’s feeling.

Playing a character who is often powerless can be a daunting task, but Mbedu turns in a star-making performance, and one that will hopefully lead to plenty of great opportunities in her career moving forward.

The Underground Railroad is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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