Amazon’s new series ‘Undone’ looks at elastic nature of reality
‘Undone,’ a new animated series from Amazon with stunning art, introduces viewers to a young woman who’s perceiving reality and time in a different way
Amazon’s first foray into adult animation wowed attendees Thursday at Comic-Con, with a deeply emotional original story and evocative visual style.
In the half-hour dramedy ‘Undone,’ Rosa Salazar (‘Alita: Battle Angel’) portrays Alma, a 28-year-old woman who gets in a car accident after seeing her deceased father (Bob Odenkirk) smoking on the side of the road. After waking up from a coma, Alma discovers she’s developed a new relationship with time and is still able to see her father, who urges her to use her newfound ability to uncover the truth about his death more than a decade prior.
The series also stars Angelique Cabral of ‘Life in Pieces’ as Alma’s younger sister, as well as Constance Marie, Siddarth Dhananjay and Daveed Diggs of ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Blindspotting.’
After a screening of its first two episodes Thursday, series creators and executive producers Raphael Bob-Waserberg and Kate Purdy, and Salazar spoke with Comic-Con attendees about the origin of the new time-bending original series.
While working on ‘Bojack Horseman,’ which Purdy wrote on and Bob-Waserberg co-created, the duo began discussing the possibility of creating ‘Undone,” drawing inspiration from their personal lives as well as from an episode Bojack Purdy wrote where the titular character goes on a drug trip.
Purdy’s grandmother was schizophrenic, and she always had some anxiety that she may one day discovered she suffered from it, too. But then in her 30s, Purdy had her own breakdown and began exploring alternatives to mental health treatment, ultimately finding Eastern medicine and ancient treatments from South America were better treatment options for her.
There, she said healers’ understanding of mental health is much more flexible compared to the way we perceive it in Western medicine, and noted that shamans in some cultures invite people who hear voices or have visions of their ancestors on different planes of reality.
“So I started to think maybe these things we experience could be gifts or messages to us, maybe it is a way for us to change or grow,” Purdy said. “And maybe the way we perceive reality or talk about it or experience it is more flexible than maybe we collectively agree upon.”
With that in mind, Purdy and Bob-Waserberg set about creating a series that almost immediately picks up with their main character experiencing reality in a more elastic way.
Aside from the unique approach to reality and time, the series is also set apart by its embrace of using rotoscope animation on an unprecedented scale.
The entire series mixes an oil painting-like art design with rotoscoping — an animation technique were animators take live action film then animate over it, creating a visual product that truly stands apart from the crowd.
Reaction to the first two episodes was overwhelmingly positive among attendees, who offered loud applause during the closing credits. Several audience members also shared with Purdy, Bob-Waserberg and Salazar how touching and relatable they found the struggles of the main character Alma.
Alma makes it clear early on that she views herself as a “broken” person and is frustrated with the how everyday of her life is essentially the same. She’s reluctant to settle down, and although she loves and has fun with her mother and sister, the relationships clearly have some strain.
The heavy emotion of the story drew praise from audience members with some describing it as heartbreaking at times, although there were still plenty of laughs.
Overall, though, the heavy emotion that captured the attention of many attendees was among the very things that drew Salazar to the role in the first place.
“I’m an emotional person,” Salazar said. “I think we all, especially now, suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder, but I always have just a wealth of emotion.
“When I read these scripts, I said, ‘Oh my god, I can actually use all of it now,’” she added, with a laugh. “It’s all already there. I’m walking around like that 24/7 ... this was a nice place to just dump it.”
‘Undone’ will premiere on Amazon Prime Video later this year.
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