Typing this up feels like déjà vu… all over again. In the last couple of years, we’ve written quite a few similar posts about new (or existing) TV shows setting/breaking ratings records for various networks because of the added diversity (in this specific case, black leads) in their casts. Like a broken record… diversity sells folks. Shocking, right?
Last night’s premiere of “Underground” set a ratings record for WGN America, becoming its highest rated original series premiere EVER.
The 10 PM broadcast drew 1.4 million total viewers to rank No. 5 among all series premieres on cable this season, and a total of 2.5 million total viewers for the evening, when you include re-broadcasts of the episode, given WGN its best total-viewer opening ever for an original in same day viewing – better than previous WGN premieres for “Outsiders” (by 27%) and “Salem” (by 6%).
Needless to say, it’s off to a very good start for the network, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a second original series with black leads is eventually ordered.
From creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, and executive producer and John Legend, the 10-episode, hour-long program stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Aldis Hodge, and follows a group of courageous men and women who use their ingenuity, power and perseverance to attempt the greatest escape in history and break free, despite the dire consequences that awaited them on the other side. A courageous blacksmith Noah (Aldis Hodge) covertly organizes a small group of his fellow slaves and pieces together a daring plan of escape across hundreds of miles to freedom. The odds of success are razor-thin for those who make it off the plantation, while the risks, dangers and obstacles multiply each step of the way.
“Underground” features an acclaimed cast, including Christopher Meloni, Alano Miller, Jessica de Gouw, Marc Blucas, Adina Porter, Mykelti Williamson, Amirah Vann, Johnny Ray Gill, Chris Chalk, Reed Diamond, Theodus Crane, Renwick Scott and Jussie Smollett.
Anthony Hemingway (“The Wire,” “Treme”) directs and serves as executive producer.
Did you tune in last night? If so, thoughts? And if you missed it, per the image above, WGN will air encore broadcasts of the premiere on the listed days and times.