Almost all of the "Masterpiece Theatre American Collection" dramas have been disasters. The sole exception is "Cora Unashamed." This adaptation of Langston Hughes's short story is beautifully written, directed, and cast. It packs a greater emotional punch than almost anything else that television has produced in recent years.
Cora, a black housekeeper, works for a well-placed white family in a small Iowa town, and loses her young daughter to illness. Cora finds a surrogate child in the youngest daughter of her employers, and the daughter, in turn, finds a soulmate in Cora. This friendship, as well as the young girl's romantic attachment, does not please her social-climbing mother. Matters come to a head when this child also falls ill.
The underrated Regina Taylor plays Cora to perfection, displaying the full range of the character's emotions. Cora's sense of humor, honor, and love balance her pain, hurt, and jealousy. She never loses sight of the entire woman. Cherry Jones, one of the New York stage's greatest actresses, matches her as the flawed and domineering mother. Where a lesser actress would portray a cardboard villain, Jones displays all the vulnerability and humanity that lies under the surface.
A job well done.