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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Undone is an animated series about a woman whose perception of reality changes after she's in a car accident. Mental illness, a disability (hearing loss), family secrets, and the violent death of one family member all play a role in this surreal series, which is something of a murder mystery. Characters drink too much in several scenes, including one that ends up with two characters half-naked and kissing. Sexual content also includes several scenes of a character in her bra, once kissing and jokingly humping her boyfriend in bed. Violence is minimal: A character gets into a car accident, and viewers see her body whipping around, with a little bit of blood flying from her mouth; she's then shown in a hospital bed with a bandaged forehead. Images of a past suicide attempt are visible, including blood coming from a slit wrist. Language is infrequent but does include "f--king" and "s--t." A diverse mix of characters is at the center of the action here, including a Latinx main character who uses a hearing aid, as well as her family members and friends who try to support her. Themes of empathy and compassion are evident in the way characters' problems and issues are treated carefully and with respect.
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What's the story?
When a brutal accident sets off intense visions from her past and visits from her dead father (Bob Odenkirk), Alma's (Rosa Salazar) perception of reality is utterly UNDONE. When we first meet her, Alma's prickly exterior hides the pain she's felt ever since her father died mysteriously some years earlier; she's even tart to her loving (if demanding) mother (Constance Marie) and sister Becca (Angelique Cabral), not to mention her sweet boyfriend Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay). But when her family's skeletons start falling from the closet, Alma finds she has to reckon with her past if she hopes to embrace her future.
Is it any good?
Far out and absolutely beautiful to look at, this ambitious series unfolds like a fever dream but stays perfectly grounded thanks to relatable, realistic characters. There's a moment in Undone's first episode that crystallizes how beautifully true to life this series is. Arriving home from a chaotic night with her sister, she starts pulling off her clothes on the way into bed when she catches her balance on a piano, curses as the keys emit a few notes, and hops away. People on TV don't usually accidentally lean on pianos. It's a small moment but it feels so real, and Alma feels real -- and then she starts having visions of her dead father, and darned if they don't feel real too (Bob Odenkirk's outrageously lovable presence certainly doesn't hurt).
Alma has questions, and she knows her family has secrets; her lifelong simmering anger has been the price she's paid for keeping the peace. But now she's become unstuck in time, and so we see her seesawing back in forth from her 28-year-old self to an earlier Alma, who didn't pick up on the clues that were there around her. And it all takes place against fantastical backgrounds: a Halloween streetscape with glowing lanterns, riverside in San Antonio beside a lighted bridge, a starry sky Alma floats through, unmoored. You've never seen anything like this, so be sure you see it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the choice to use animation in Undone. What types of scenes does animation make possible? What visuals are powerful when animated but might look fake or silly in live action? How does the look of this show enhance the emotional content?
The death of a loved one is often a catalyst for change in movies and TV shows. What examples can you name? Why is death a powerful motivator, both cinematically and for real people?
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