Recommended: Children of the Underground on FX
What's Children of the Underground About?
After the courts send her own daughter back to her abusive father, Faye Yager begins an underground railroad to help mothers and their kids get away from the men who harm them.
Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?
Children of the Underground is infuriating in all the best ways. At first it stokes outrage by persuasively demonstrating that because of America's family court system, abused children often need a network like Yager's to protect them from their predatory relatives. The interviews with the women and children who used her underground railroad only soildify this argument, alongside court documents that show how judges and attorneys overlook or mishandl evidence of mistreatment.
But by episode three, the show scrambles our notion of heroes and villians. We're reminded that while she was helping kids, Yager was also fueling the flames of the "Satanic panic" of the 80s and early 90s, talking to anyone who would listen about ritualized, devil-worshiping abuse that almost certainly didn't happen. It's maddening that someone who did so much good could spout this claptrap.
From there, directors Cowperthwaite and Gesen expertly vacillate between the idea that Yager is a good guy, a bad guy, or some combination of the two. In one moment, she seems to be causing an uproar just to satisfy her own ego, while in others she seems to be a fearless crusader. The last episode, when Yager herself is finally interviewed, only intensifies that ambiguity. In the end, it may be the show's determination to defy our desire for tidy resolutions that makes it so hard to shake.
Pairs well with