underground interview with Betty Grimes

John Legend’s “Underground” Railroad series picked up for second season

After setting viewership records for the cable network WGN, “Underground,” the critically-acclaimed series based on the Underground Railroad, has been renewed for a second season.

“Underground” tells the story of a group of slaves from a Georgia plantation who plan a 600 mile escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad. The show features a cast including Christopher Meloni, Mykelti Williamson, and Jurnee Smollett-Bell, sister of “Empire” star Jussie Smollett.

Springfield native John Legend, one of the shows Executive Producers, said during an interview with AOL’s “Build”, the show was important and had impact on American lives.

“We have to confront our history,” said Legend. “The Underground Railroad, we’ve all heard about it to some extent —- There is so much narrative that hasn’t been told on a broader scale. Giving it this treatment in 10 episodes and hopefully multiple seasons, really helps us understand how heroic these people were.”

>>READ MORE: Marker honors role in Underground Railroad

The show has had a local influence in Underground Railroad education.

Betty Grimes, President and CEO of the Gammon House, a preserved Underground Railroad home at 620 Piqua Place in Springfield, has noticed an increase in Underground Railroad education, particularly in higher education. “I had researchers from [University] Akron come to see first-hand the work we have done here in our preservation efforts at the Gammon House,” said Grimes. Gammon House also saw in increase of patrons, some from as far away as California.

>>READ MORE: Hidden history resides in Springfield’s Gammon House

“Underground” debuted in March with a 10 episode order. According to Nielsen, at the conclusion of Season 1, “Underground” would average nearly 1 million viewers. Critics and reviews for the show were positive, with a 7.8 Metacritic rating. Full episodes of the first season can be viewed on Amazon Prime. Season 2 of “Underground” is slated to air in 2017.

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