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To: Craig Erwich, Senior Vice President, Head of Content at Hulu.
Save Our Show: Keep the Hit Series "Underground" On-Air.
Pick up "Underground" so that Runners, like me, can keep enjoying their favorite show!
Why is this important?
Dear Craig Erwich,
Television shows featuring Black character leads and exploring the experiences of Black people are being wiped off the air. The hit series Underground, which has consistently earned critical acclaim, is the latest show to be booted from WGN America’s roster. Sinclair Broadcast Group, a notoriously conservative media company that recently bought WGN America, chopped Underground.
Craig, Underground is looking for a new home. And since Hulu already owns the streaming rights to the show, fans like me are urging Hulu to pick up Underground.
Underground brought in great reviews, show after show, for two seasons. And last year, news sources reported that Underground’s popularity pushed WGN’s rating up %1000. Not only did the show meet the traditional benchmarks, but it also attracted an incredible social media following and all-around fanbase.
Why would a network axe its star? In their own words, Sinclair executives argue that “despite Underground being a terrific and important series, it no longer fits with our new direction.” Translation: shows that depict Black people fighting against white supremacy and standing on the right side of history do not belong on our networks.
Underground brings to life the stories of enslaved Africans and free Black Americans committed to equity and justice. Underground pushes beyond superficial storylines about enslaved African people in America by including multidimensional Black characters and affirming their individual experiences, intelligence, and desires.
The series brought more Black heroes into our homes, and that kind of representation has major implications! Dehumanizing portrayals of Black people in the mainstream, or erasing them entirely, often support people’s racist behavior and thinking. That’s why inclusive, positive depictions of Black people are so important in countering the damage that years of televised anti-Blackness has wreaked.
How we show up on television has consequences for our medical care, housing, employment and livelihood. So when networks begin to cherry-pick the kinds of Black characters they have space for on their rosters, they have a hand in deciding how doctors approach their Black patients complaints of pain, how realtors and lenders work with Black renters and homeowners, and how employers hire, treat and retain Black talent.
Hulu has already had success with adopting shows that have been dropped from TV Networks, like “The Mindy Project.” At a Television Critics Association panel, showrunners Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton boasted about the wealth of support they’ve received from Hulu. Kaling expressed that because Hulu did not interfere with the series’s creative direction, she and her partner could “take storytelling risks, find new ways to explore,” and “bring real emotion to the show.” A show like Underground needs to be on a network that allows its showrunners the freedom to tell stories that corporations, like the Sinclair Media Group, want to block. Stories about lionhearted Black people. Stories about commitment to justice and equity. Stories about righteous defiance.
Underground needs a new home, and Hulu already owns the show’s streaming rights. Craig Erwich, will Hulu pick up Underground?