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The Good Lord Bird

The Good Lord Bird

Photo Credit:  William Gray/Showtime
  • Premiered: 
    October 4, 2020
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: Showtime
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Drama
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
    Based on the 2013 book (The Good Lord Bird) by James McBride 
  • Subject Matter:
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Plot Synopsis

Based on James McBride's 2013 book of the same name, THE GOOD LORD BIRD is a seven-part limited series told from the point of view of Onion, a fictional enslaved boy who becomes a member of John Brown's motley family of abolitionist soldiers during Bleeding Kansas -- a time when the state was a battleground between pro- and anti-slavery forces - and eventually finds himself participating in the famous 1859 raid on the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry. Brown's raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended, but was the event that started the Civil War. Episodes include:

"Meet the Lord" (Sunday, October 4, 2020): Henry Shackleford, a young slave living in the Kansas territory in 1856, has a run-in with legendary abolitionist John Brown who mistakes Henry for a young girl and promptly "frees" him. Believing Henry to be his good luck charm, Brown welcomes him into his ragtag army and nicknames him "Onion." Donning a dress for the first time, Onion quickly awakens to the life or death stakes in the battle over human bondage and, while dodging bullets, witnesses firsthand Brown's divinely inspired violent agenda: to free the land of slavery by any means necessary.

"A Wicked Plot" (Sunday, October 11, 2020): Separated from Brown's army, Onion and fellow slave Bob leave the fight in Kansas only to cross paths with pro-slavery "red shirts" who escort them to the slave-trading town of Pikesville, Missouri. Onion is taken under the wing of Pie, a mixed-race prostitute working out of the local hotel, who instructs him in the ways of the world despite her discovering his dangerous secret. Onion soon finds himself enmeshed in a mounting slave insurrection where he learns the consequences of his own actions.

"Mister Fred" (Sunday, October 18, 2020): Following the battle in Pikesville, John Brown, now one of the most wanted men in America, and Onion travel north to raise funds for the abolitionist cause. They take refuge at the home of famed orator and "King of the Negroes" Frederick Douglass and dine with his wife and mistress. When Brown and Douglass clash over methodology, Onion discovers just how complex the fight for justice and human equality really is.

"Smells Like Bear" (Sunday, October 25, 2020): Brown and Onion continue their fundraising mission, this time heading to Canada on foot. After seeing true freedom for the first time and frustrated with Brown's increasingly irrational behavior, Onion demands freedom from Brown's army. But, when the legendary Harriet Tubman endorses Brown in a room full of new recruits, Onion realizes that he may be more invested in the cause and the "old man" than he thought.

"Hiving the Bees" (Sunday, November 1, 2020): Onion and new recruit John Cook head to Harper's Ferry to prepare for Brown and his army's arrival. However, Onion struggles to perform his mission of recruiting more African-American soldiers from the area when Cook's reckless behavior threatens their exposure to suspicious neighbors. After several weeks of waiting, Brown, his army and his daughter Annie finally arrive -- creating a new distraction for Onion: true love

"Jesus Is Walkin'" (Sunday, November 8, 2020): The plan to take control of Harper's Ferry, the nation's largest armory, is finally put into action. However, a crucial mistake by Onion threatens the success of the entire operation. John Brown's army takes hostages, grabbing the attention of an angry mob and local militia. With shots firing, Onion is sent out to get reinforcements.

"Last Words" (Sunday, November 15, 2020): John Brown and his remaining army take a last stand as more federal troops descend upon Harper's Ferry. With John Brown captured and held for public execution, Onion, truly on his own, risks his life to say his goodbyes to Brown.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Blumhouse Productions (as Blumhouse Television)