To Binge or Not to Binge Episode 82: ‘Undone’

%22Undone%22+%28Courtesy+Amazon%29

“Undone” (Courtesy Amazon)

By Cade Anderson, Arts Writer

 

In Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s “Undone,” a near-fatal car wreck leaves Alma (Rosa Salazar) with a non-linear perception of time and frequent visits by her late father. Through raw script-writing and stunning animation, this sci-fi drama follows Alma as she navigates the clash between indigenous and imperialist ways of life and the complexity of maintaining relationships while struggling with her mental health. 

To Binge or Not to Binge?

“Undone” blew me away. I binged all eight episodes this summer when I was unemployed due to the pandemic and had practically nothing to do, but I can wholeheartedly say that it’s worth a binge even if you have actual responsibilities. Starring Rosa Salazar, Angelique Cabral, Constance Marie, Siddharth Dhananjay, Daveed Diggs and Bob Odenkirk, “Undone” is just as fun as it is heavy, allowing each viewer to have a wildly different but personally valuable experience with the show.

The level of verisimilitude of the show is largely thanks to its unique style of animation, known as “rotoscoping.” Rotoscope is a century-old animation technique in which scenes are actually filmed in-person and then delicately traced over afterward. The style has been used to give cartoon characters more organic movements, like what rotoscoping’s founder Max Fleischer did with Betty Boop and Superman, and other times it’s used to place graphics onto footage after filming, like the neon lights added to “Tron” (1982). When it comes to “Undone,” the rotoscoping strikes a delicate balance between other-worldly visuals and realistic human interactions. Viewers are simultaneously drawn to its authentic aura and unnerved by its “uncanny valley” — which creates an experience that mimics Alma’s concurrent awe and confusion about what is real and what is not. 

After each episode of “Undone,” I was left with a deep emotional desire — like I’ve never felt before — to have a long conversation with all the characters in the story. To fill that void, I took to discussing the show with anybody who’d listen. A coworker I spoke to thinks it’s all an abstract allegory for schizophrenia while my dad and high school best friend said they followed along with a more literal interpretation of the show. And when I brought the show up in a conversation I was having a couple of months ago about injustice in the US, my cool AP Language teacher from high school asked, “Is ‘Undone’ the one with illustrations mixed into the show? Maybe [the show is] a metaphor for how we see ourselves in our own lives?” 

There’s so much you can take away from this show, and different viewers with different outlooks will appropriately have different but nonetheless powerful experiences watching “Undone.”

Similar Shows

The show can be compared to another trippy sci-fi drama on the theme of mental health, Maniac. “Undone” also shares creators and fan bases with the adult animated series “Bojack Horseman.” 

Trigger Warnings

Potential viewers should be aware that aside from moderate language and sexual content, “Undone” frequently portrays grief, anxiety, relationship problems and dissociation from reality. As someone who related to some of Alma’s experiences, I found the show to be constructive and self-conscious in its depictions of mental health struggles.

 

“Undone”

5/5 stars

Eight half-hour episodes

Available on Amazon Prime

 

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