WGN America officially announced that Underground, it’s critically acclaimed drama about a group of runaway slaves and abolitionists fighting for freedom along the Underground Railroad, has been cancelled after only two seasons. It follows the recent cancellation of fellow sophomore drama Outsiders as WGN America (WGNA) is changing it’s programming course, while its parent Tribune is preparing for its acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. As reported by Variety, Chris Ripley, CEO of Sinclair, stated that WGNA’s ratings did not justify the cost of its programming.
“As WGN America evolves and broadens the scope and scale of its portfolio of series, we recently announced that resources will be reallocated to a new strategy to increase our relevance within the rapidly changing television landscape. This move is designed to deliver additional value for our advertising and distribution partners and offer viewers more original content across our air,” Tribune Media President and CEO Peter Kern said. “Despite Underground being a terrific and important series, it no longer fits with our new direction and we have reached the difficult decision not to renew it for a third season. We are tremendously proud of this landmark series that captured the zeitgeist and made an impact on television in a way never before seen on the medium. We thank the incomparable creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski and the great John Legend, along with the talented creative team and cast who brought the unsung American heroes of the Underground Railroad to life. We are grateful to the loyal fans of Underground and our partners at Sony Pictures Television. It is our hope that this remarkable show finds another home and continues its stories of courage, determination and freedom.”
Despite the cancellation, the creators have been trying to find a new home for the popular series. BET, OWN and Hulu, who has Underground streaming rights, were all mentioned as obvious possibilities at one time. Sources reveal that BET came close to a deal for the drama; however, the Viacom cable network wound up backing out of the deal. While most avenues outside of WGN had been exhausted, OWN is reportedly still in the mix, and Hulu is still interested in being involved.
“We haven’t heard anything yet on the status of Season 3,” said Aisha Hinds, who joined Season 2 portraying Underground Railroad icon Harriet Tubman. “But I do know there is quite a bit more of this story to tell. And I know that we have engaged viewers waiting to see the story. If WGN is not our home, we’ll find a home.”
Underground was undoubtedly ground-breaking television, and the first of it’s kind. It’s one of the only shows in the history of television that showcased enslaved Africans, freed black Americans, and their children as freedom fighter. The series provided a much much-needed humanistic look at the general market portrayals of American slavery, so we have our fingers crossed that this amazing series will find another home.