*** No major spoilers for Undone: Season One ***
One of my favorite television shows of all time is Bojack Horseman. It is filled with absurdist humor, profound human moments, constant character development, and easter eggs as far as the eye can see. Additionally, one of my favorite albums of the 2010s is Undun by The Roots. A concept album of a man’s life and death in reverse, Undun is nothing short of gripping. So, what happens when the team behind Bojack Horseman releases a new television series called Undone? Let’s find out!
Undonepremiered on Amazon Prime on September 13th with an eight-episode first season. It tells the story of Alma Winegrad-Diaz, a young adult portrayed by Rosa Salazar. Alma is sick of her mundane lifestyle and yearns for something more. After getting in a car accident, she begins to see and talk to her dead father, portrayed by Bob Odenkirk. He informs her that she has the power to travel non-linearly through time. Throughout the first season, she tries to hold onto normalcy as she grapples with her incredible gift. In addition to Salazar and Odenkirk, The series also features prominent voice acting from Angelique Cabral, Constance Marie, Siddharth Dhananjay, and the multi-talented Daveed Diggs.
The show is headed by Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg. Purdy and Bob-Waksberg are both important fixtures in Bojack Horseman, with the former being a writer and the latter being the showrunner and creator. Purdy has written some of Bojack’s most critically acclaimed episodes such as “Downer Ending,” “The Old Sugarman Place,” and “Time’s Arrow.” Those three episodes all tackle non-linear storytelling structures, whether it be a trip of drug-induced hallucinations, a mirage of flashbacks, or a biography told through the lens of a woman suffering from dementia. Her experience with these three episodes is an incredible asset for Undone’s peculiar timeline.
While the plot and voice acting are both great, the most enthralling parts of the series are the art style and the musical score. The art style uses a technique called rotoscoping, where animators put their own art over live footage. For a visual reference, this technique used in Kanye West’s iconic “Heartless” video.
Undoneis meant to look like it takes place in an oil painting, which leads to some of the most beautiful and breathtaking backdrops that I have ever seen and will ever see. This is especially prominent in the second episode, The Hospital. As Alma’s powers awaken, the animation team experiments with a mirage of surreal and psychedelic animation styles that range from exquisitely beautiful to absolutely horrifying. While sometimes the characters look a little off, especially as the watcher adapts to the visual style, the background world is always nothing short of exceptional. Hopefully, the series will encourage other shows to experiment with their art styles.
The show’s score is composed by Amie Doherty. It’s incredibly constructed and perfectly fits the vibe that the show is going for. The strings and the piano that show up all over the score are often in a high register, giving the show a sense of whimsical magic. One highlight of the show is in the first episode, where a montage of Alma going through the same routine day-in and day-out is backdropped by a piece called “The Monotony of Life.” The score creates a hauntingly beautiful sense of existential loneliness that perfectly fits the mood.
The series utilizes many themes, such as family, multiculturalism, relationships, learning from the past, and mental illness. Some of these themes might be somewhat taboo, however, Undonehandles them all very tastefully. This is fitting because, above all else, Undoneis tasteful. It pushes artistic boundaries with an unmatched aesthetic.
As of my writing this article, the show has not yet been renewed for a second season. The first season definitely ends with some closure, however, I would love to see more of the Winegrad-Diaz family and the world they inhabit. I really hope that Undoneis not done.
Cover Photo: IMDB