Undone

Tagged: TV

US animated online series (2019). Amazon Studios, Minnow Mountain, Submarine and Tornante Company. Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy. Directed by Hisko Hulsing. Writers include Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Lauren Otero and Kate Purdy. Voice cast includes Angelique Cabral, Siddharth Dhananjay, Constance Marie, Bob Odenkirk and Rosa Salazar. Eight 23-minute episodes. Colour.

28-year-old Alma Winograd-Diaz (Salazar) dislikes the routine her life has fallen into and rails against those close to her who embrace conformity: her soon-to-be-married sister Becca (Cabral), her boyfriend Sam (Dhananjay), who is content with the stability of their relationship, and her traditional mother Camila Diaz (Marie). They, on the other hand, are concerned she is exhibiting the schizophrenia (discussed under Paranoia) that afflicted her father and his mother. Alma's father, Jacob Winograd (Odenkirk), died in a car crash when she was a child.

However, her own car crash brings unwanted change: the world shatters and reconstructs around her; events repeat (see Time Loop) with alterations; her father, a theoretical physicist (see Physics) interested in shamanism (see Anthropology), appears and suggests that "the accident has shaken your temporal understanding of time and space and somehow given you the ability to see things in a non-linear fashion ... or it's all just some fever dream, morphine drip, head-trauma type thing": she can tune out these experiences with medication, or try a life that does not have limitations. He suggests the latter, but admits to an ulterior motive: he wants her to discover who murdered him and prevent it. Alma is deaf: her father likens her understanding of her new state to when her hearing aid was fitted – experiencing an incoherent noise until it became structured and comprehensible. She eventually does get to the night of her father's death, to find it was suicide following his wife kicking him out and his lab assistant filing a complaint over his experiments on his daughter. Her father had believed schizophrenia is a different way of seeing the world, linking it to the shamanistic experience, and used the young Alma to test this hypothesis.

From Alma's perspective, she is able to move in time and adjust events by making different decisions (see Alternate Histories); to others she appears distracted and unstable. The ending, with Alma waiting for her saved father to appear, is ambiguous: it is left open as to whether her experiences are true or illusions due to untreated mental illness. Events have been balanced to reasonably allow either interpretation. This concern with the Perception of reality recalls Rog Phillips' "The Yellow Pill" (October 1958 Astounding) and the works of Philip K Dick.

At the show's core are the relationships between Alma, her mother, sister and boyfriend: they all act badly (sometimes very badly) and interfere in each other's lives, though they also clearly love each other; these relationships are handled well and are not sentimentalized. Though this is not a comedy, there are many amusing moments to lighten the intensity. Undone was an significant series; engrossing and emotionally convincing. It was animated using rotoscope, giving an uncanny-valley appearance to characters, probably intentionally. [SP]

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