WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
A woman discovers she has a new relationship with time after surviving a car accident that almost killed her.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
My best friend told me to watch Undone on Amazon Prime a little while ago, and it was only when I had watched everything else on my list, that I finally listened to him. And let me tell you, he was right, and I wish I had listened to him sooner.
The first thing that grabbed my attention about this series with short and punchy episodes is that it's not quite animated, but it's not quite live action. It's something all its own. So, from the outset, I knew I was stepping into a world that looked a lot like everyday life but with a little more dream-like whimsy added to it.
This vivid dream belongs to creators' Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy's lead protagonist Alma Winograd-Diaz. At the start of the show, Alma has a very ordinary life, with a routine and a job and a live-in boyfriend. But then when we take a closer look, we see where all the cracks are. She doesn't want to commit to her boyfriend for the long haul, she almost always at loggerheads with her sister, and her job isn't that fulfilling.
Then, just as all those things come crashing down, in a jarring car accident, we learn that Alma is suffering from mental illness. Or perhaps she's able to transcend this physical plane at will. To me, the facts of her situation aren't as important as the way the show uses its medium of something a little more than live-action to tell the story.
There are echoes of Fight Club as well as magical realism (ala The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende) mixed with a detective show. The writers and everyone behind the scenes threw away the rulebook for so many cool scenes that their references to other works hit home even harder and serve to give me a sense of context I didn't know I needed.
Told mostly from Alma's perspective, the show bends space and time in a way that makes you believe that anything is possible. That there is more to the truth than one perspective, and it is really eye-opening in this respect.
That links me to one of my favourite things about this show. It's not formulaic; it poses no easy questions and doesn't spoon-feed the audience. I also think that the incredible performance of Rosa Salazar as the lead, Alma really gives the show the anchor it needs to delve into deeper water.
She's funny and acerbic but also manages to inject a level of softness to this woman who has been through so much, that it is near impossible not to put yourself in her shoes. Which, I think, is the mark of any good anti-hero.
I've seen people call Undone adult animation and I have to say that has connotations of The Simpsons and Rick and Morty to me, which this show is not. It deals with issues of mental illness and trauma in a way that those shows do not. Not better or worse, just different. Because I don't think we should stratify addressing those issues. It's not helpful, because a lot of people could connect to one depiction where a small niche connects to another. Each group's experience is important, and one connection is not one to be appreciated over another's.
While this show is a trippy and challenging watch, I do think it's worth the journey. It's a rollercoaster that I hope lots of people ride and then talk about for a while with their friends, because everything Alma deals with is very relatable, even if the medium is not.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: