For a good dose of geekiness, family drama and somewhat dark comedy all centred around a different type of leading lady, give Undone a try.
This hand drawn rotoscope animation dramedy is available on Prime Video. I’m going to set the scene for you and it’s going to seem like I’m giving you spoilers but I’m not. Trust me.
Here we go
Alma is a 28-year-old woman having a bit of a crisis about being pigeonholed into the traditional expectations of her mother and sister. Her life has fallen into a rut of routine and boredom. Let us count the ways:
- She’s struggling to feel connected to her loved ones
- She’s less than fulfilled in her job at a nursery school
- She’s gripped with ennui and fears having mental illness like her grandmother
- Breaks up with her boyfriend and launches a bid to sort her life out
When her younger sister Becca announces her engagement, Alma is less than enthused and in a misguided effort to help, orchestrates things so that Becca drunkenly cheats on her fiancé.
Alma, in her slightly immature and dismissive way, is not sorry. Becca, funny enough, is not amused. They fight because, of course.
Driving away from the fight, Alma sees her father. This isn’t a big deal, except for the part where he’s been dead for two decades. She crashes her car, which lifts the veil to the afterlife and so we begin. I told you that these weren’t spoilers…
The Paths Less Travelled
From the second episode on, we follow Alma as she tries to walk two totally incompatible paths. On the first lies her disastrous personal life, where everyone from her ex-boyfriend to her sister take advantage of Alma’s amnesia around the days before the accident. We also see Alma and her mother Camilla dealing with that old trope: immigrant mothers struggling to connect with their American daughters.
Yes, all these tropes are done to death – but there’s hope for new and exciting anxieties when the second path comes into play: Alma’s time-travelling abilities, received from her father, have awakened and are causing untold havoc.
The jumps in time aren’t helped by the constant appearance of dead dad Jacob, who wants Alma to focus on honing her ability so that she can go back to the day of his death and prevent him from dying. Obviously. As she hops from one path to another, Alma makes some uncomfortable discoveries about her parents’ relationship and her own selfish behaviour.
So, to recap, Alma now has…
- A mother who thinks she’s mentally unstable
- A father obsessed with un-dying, at all costs
- A frayed relationship with an angry sister
- A boyfriend who’s gaslighting her
She’s drawn tight into an existential crisis to rival all others and has to balance taking responsibility for her lousy behaviour against the temptation to fix everything with time-travel.
Interspersed in all this is an examination of our heroine’s roots and how her father may have exploited them for his research.
Watch Undone’s (only slightly spoiler-ific) trailer
Rosa Salazar as Alma brilliantly captures the isolation, selfishness, displacement, and irreverent wit of her character. The supporting cast which includes Daveed Diggs, Bob Odenkirk, Constance Marie and Angelique Cabral round out a performance so convincing you feel voyeuristic for watching the show.
As problematic as the characters can be to each other, they are real and grounded in a way that makes the jarring trips into hallucinations and time travel even more unsettling. At the core of it, you want to root for Alma.
Undone was renewed for a second season at the end of last year, which is great because the season finale was… okay, it was a cliffhanger. I’m sorry. This show is a big plus for fans of diverse and original stories.
Mood Rating: A complex heroine of colour with a cochlea implant, brilliant wit and time travelling abilities? Sign me up and sign yourself up, too!
Delight, AKA Zizi Guru, is a fan of films that go bump in the night and of knowing things for no reason. Find her snarking on Twitter @Izeze