The Good Lord Bird: Season 1 (2020)

Season 1
The Good Lord Bird

Critics Consensus

Ethan Hawke dazzles in The Good Lord Bird, an epically irreverent adaptation that does right by its source material's good word.



Critic Ratings: 33


Audience Score

User Ratings: 178

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Air date: Oct 4, 2020

Henry Shackleford, a young slave living in the Kansas territory in 1856, has a run-in with abolitionist John Brown, who mistakes him for a girl and promptly "frees" him.

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Air date: Oct 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, Mo. Onion soon finds himself enmeshed in a mounting slave insurrection, where he learns the consequences of his own actions.

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Air date: Oct 18, 2020

After the battle in Pikesville, John Brown, now one of the most wanted men in America, heads north with Onion to raise funds for the abolitionist cause. They take refuge at the home of famed orator and "King of the Negroes" Frederick Douglass and his two wives.

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Air date: Oct 25, 2020

John and Onion continue their fund-raising 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.

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Air date: Nov 1, 2020

Onion and new recruit John Cook head to Harper's Ferry to prepare for the arrival of John Brown and his army. 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.

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Air date: Nov 8, 2020

The plan to seize the nation's largest armory at Harper's Ferry is finally put into action, but 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, and with shots firing, Onion is sent out to get reinforcements.

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Air date: Nov 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. Series finale.

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The Good Lord Bird: Season 1 Videos

Tv Season Info

Cast & Crew

Wyatt Russell
Jeb Stuart
Jack Alcott
Jason Brown
Adam Shapiro
Jew Weiner
Orlando Jones
The Rail Man
Ethan Hawke
John Brown
Beau Knapp
Owen Brown
Daveed Diggs
Frederick Douglass
Hubert Point-Du Jour
Ellar Coltrane
Salmon Brown
David Morse
Dutch Henry Sherman
Nick Eversman
John Brown Jr.
David L. Schiff
Padraic McKinley
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News & Interviews for The Good Lord Bird: Season 1

Critic Reviews for The Good Lord Bird Season 1

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (19)

As good as Hawke is here, Johnson just might be better. A winner.

Oct 6, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

With a rollicking pilot from director Albert Hughes, the limited series is bursting with lively music, well-staged shootouts, and a wicked sense of humor. Holding it all together is Hawke.

Oct 5, 2020 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
Top Critic

The show's rowdy atmosphere is flexible enough to slide into intensely moving and disturbing moments, thanks to directors such as Albert Hughes and Kevin Hooks and creator-writers Hawke and Mark Richard, all of whom stay true to McBride's vision.

Oct 1, 2020 | Full Review…

The disdain is breathtaking and infuriating. If only it seemed more distant.

Oct 1, 2020 | Full Review…

As long as you don't come to it for a direct history lesson, it is as entertaining as almost any new show of 2020.

Sep 30, 2020 | Full Review…

I found it impenetrable ... It just goes straight in, there's not much of an introduction.

Nov 22, 2020 | Full Review…
Top Critic

[John] Brown's bipolarity plays into Ethan Hawke's portrayal...the camera feels attuned to Hawke's probing gaze, capturing the fire and fury behind each moment and every thought, whispered or roared. He can make you smile one moment, shudder the next.

Nov 23, 2020 | Full Review…

It's a riotous ride through a primitive America whose identity is still in the process of being formed, led by an outsized performance from Ethan Hawke as Brown.

Nov 19, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It's a fascinating story, and Hawke brings it alive with the performance of his career, playing a character who is essentially the "sweaty-toothed mad man" that Ethan Hawke describes in Dead Poets Society.

Nov 17, 2020 | Full Review…

Ethan Hawke is delightfully unhinged.

Oct 13, 2020 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Ethan Hawke and Daveed Diggs are the standouts in the cast, with the former hitting home runs every time he takes on a project these days and Diggs fast translating his stage stardom into screen leading man charisma.

Oct 11, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A man who took up arms to free the oppressed is the literal definition of a white savior, and The Good Lord Bird makes space for that skepticism without invalidating Brown's moral clarity.

Oct 6, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Good Lord Bird: Season 1

  • 1d ago
    Ethan Hawke gives it all as the charismatic and deeply religious John Brown, and that's more than actually expected. He and his counterpart 'Onion', so honestly sweet and innocent, portraid by Joshua Caleb Johnson, along with a great cast, strong music full of soul, top cinematography, all together creates a highly credible atmosphere that smells of dirt, sweat and gunpowder. Still, it's all so nuanced and peculiar that it's hard to realize what the story really is about. Makes one ponder.
  • 3d ago
    A very good story! The cast is very good, especially our dear and not very dear, John Brown (Ethan Hawke). Which is ... perfectly splendid
  • 3d ago
    Ethan Hawke is magnificent! I remember the first time I saw him as a child actor and I knew he would be great. Great storytelling too.
  • 4d ago
    Love the flawed heros lead by Ethan at his witless best
  • 6d ago
    Most of the reviews are from white people, no shit. This series is about a black boy who was forced to dress like a girl to keep his "white saviors" from killing/ raping him. The reality of that makes want to vomit.
  • Nov 18, 2020
    A fantastic series from start to finish, beautiful storytelling and cinematography. The performances were all around stellar especially Ethan Hawke as John Brown. One of the best series I have ever seen.
  • Nov 18, 2020
    Hawke e intr-un mare fel
  • Nov 18, 2020
    Loved every minute of it. Ethan Hawke did a great job! The actor who played Onion was my favorite . It was serious and funny but not so funny that you forget that this was a terrible time in American History.
  • Nov 18, 2020
    I've only gotten through 3 episodes and I just can't decide what I think of it. The voiceover in the first episode was distracting, the second episode was excellent, the third episode was unwatchable. Daveed Diggs plays Frederick Douglas broadly like some effete British school boy - totally disconcerting. He has two wives (sigh) which seems to be the norm for "great men". After all Gandhi slept with 12 year old girls, but the show portrays them like battling snipes doing pratfalls and is totally out of tone and character with the other two episodes. They have no dignity, there is no acknowledgement of the humiliation they must have suffered. Yet much of the dialogue in 1 and 2 is strong, emotive and really captures the driven zelotry of John Brown. His passion and commitment are admirable, yet we sense the danger in the vastness of his religion and his willingness to sacrifice his own family for a greater cause. Much food for thought but I don't think I'll follow through on this.
  • Nov 17, 2020
    Fascinating look at the life of abolitionist John Brown who was probably the single most influential person responsible for starting the movement that led to the civil war. A great history lesson for the times leading up to that war. He is mostly a footnote in most history books taught in elementary school so for me this was eye opening. I am sure some artistic license was taken but reading done after the series seem to confirm many of the facts.

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