I Just Watched a Flawed HBO Series, The Undoing! Help Me Fix It!

Well, that was frustrating. Some good central ideas, and then blah weird confusing presentation. I feel like the DCIB community collective can ABSOLUTELY fix this thing and make it better!

Really, I do not recommend this show. So I am going to SPOIL it and you should all read the spoilers because you will never want to watch it.

HBO's 'The Undoing': Cast, Trailer, and Everything Else We Know

Beautiful Psychologist from a rich powerful family with a wise powerful father is married to a sacrificing children’s cancer doctor. Their son goes to an extremely expensive and exclusive day school. The wife meets a new mother from the school at a committee meeting. Her son is a scholarship student, and she brings her young baby with her to the meeting, everyone is a little put off by her different class and behavior. The new mother has a few more interactions with the wife that are just slightly odd, runs into her at her gym, cries in front of her in the bathroom. And then the wife gets an alert from the school that the mother has been found by her young son, dead. She tries to reach her doctor husband but he left his phone at home and is gone. The police are asking questions and she slowly learns her husband knew the mother and was her son’s doctor, was having an affair with the mother, he was fired from his job 3 months ago because of the affair, and just generally has been lying to her. And then he reappears. She has to decide if she will stand by his side and help him fight the murder case against him, or if she will abandon the father of her child and accept she married a vicious murderer and liar. The ending is her taking the stand as a defense witness after having fed information to the prosecution so that on cross-examination all the skeletons will come out of the closet.

Did that sound messy? It was messy! It was messy and weird and totally illogical and ultimately pointless. But there are a few things I would like to save from the wreckage and somehow make better.

The end twist is cool. Her convincing her husband and the defense lawyer that she is a devoted wife and they should put her on the stand, and then continuing to play the devoted wife who is explaining away all the terrible things she has seen her husband do, while actually turning the jury against him.

The central idea of willful blindness to who you are married to, combined with a sociopath who can be whatever you need him to be, that is SUPER cool. There were three bits that I thought “oh, this is a different kind of story”. First, when the wife learns her husband was fired, his colleague tells her that he wasn’t surprised. Because there is something about how he enjoyed being the Savior to the family of his patients, how he welcomed their dependence on him, which was never healthy. Ending with him taking advantage and having an affair with the mother of a patient wasn’t a surprise. That twist, the idea of “sometimes the person who does everything for other people is actually doing it for himself” is original and certainly something you see in real life. And having the colleague, who happens to be awkward and uncharming, be the person who notices it is REALLY good. He does the exact same thing the husband does, saves the lives of children, but without being charming and loving about it.

The other bit that was really good is at one point her father is trying to convince her to get a divorce and break free and reminds her that when she got married, he asked her “are you sure he is everything you want, and not just someone who knows how to reflect back to you what you want?” Very specific very unique definition, and interesting that an outsider could see it that long ago and she was blind to it.

In HBO's 'The Undoing,' Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant get away with murder |  Features | yoursun.com

Final thing, my favorite bit, she is saying to her father that she just wanted a happy marriage and a happy family like she had growing up and her father bluntly tells her that it wasn’t a happy marriage. He cheated on her mother all the time. The gifts, the love notes, that was all to try to make up for his latest infidelity. They were never happy. So what this is saying is, she grew up thinking a “happy normal marriage” looked like her parents’ marriage. But her parents’ marriage was actually just a facade. So when she got married, she was tricked by that same facade, by the same going through the motions without meaning anything. Far better for her to have been told the truth years ago, to know that a marriage filled with empty gestures is BAD, that these things she thought were signs of love were actually signs of rot.

Okay, so, we want to rescue the idea of an incredibly charming husband who can be all things to all people.

We want to rescue the idea of a woman who was raised in a house filled with lies without knowing it and therefore sees a lying house as a normal house.

And we want to rescue the idea of slowly understanding you are married to a terrible person, and then playing the same game as him by pretending to be the Perfect Wife just long enough to destroy him on the stand.

Maybe start with her wedding day? So we see her parents together and get a sense for the “too happy” vibe from them? Plus actually see her father’s conversation with her and then see her Perfect Husband and be as sure as she is that nothing is wrong?

And I know that I want him to be gone most of the time while she is figuring out secrets. Maybe she leaves town to get away with her son and father? And then returns last minute and offers to testify, convincing him she still loves him?

Hugh Grant and David E. Kelley Discuss the 'Undoing' Finale - The New York  Times

But I am stumped with what to do with the rest of it!

Also, if Hugh Grant was in the original as the Most Charming Man on Earth Who Has a Core That Feels Scuzzy, who do we cast in the remake?

9 thoughts on “I Just Watched a Flawed HBO Series, The Undoing! Help Me Fix It!

  1. `
    This is SO much like the usual Vera episode! (For those of you who don’t know, “Vera” is a dark BBC police procedural set is rural north England.)

    OK, first CHANGE HER HAIR.

    Second, have the husband disappear and found as a corpse.

    Third, have her pair up with the investigating police officer and/or private detective (hired by the father?)

    Fourth, is Donald Sutherland a thousand years old? He looks it.

    Fifth, that’s all I got.

    Like

  2. So Nicole is playing the same character as in Big Little Lies?

    The husband character sounds like it’s tailor-made for Shahrukh – charming with a dark core. Madhuri or Tabu for the wife. I’m leaning towards Madhuri (maybe because she is married to a doctor?). Amitabh for the father.

    Not having seen it, I don’t know what you want changed about the ideas, they sound pretty good to me .

    Like

    • Similar! But BLL is a heck of a lot better. Actually manages to say something about privilege and marriages and parenthood and that cool stuff. While this is just all over the place.

      Yes! The ideas are great!!! But the narrative/story is a MESS. That’s what we need to fix. Kill the husband or give her another love interest or have a flashback or SOMETHING.

      On Tue, May 25, 2021 at 12:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

  3. For me, the most annoying part was that they played up the whodunnit aspect…the narrative tried to keep the audience guessing as to whether Hugh grant really did commit the murder…but it was just distracting from the main themes…and annoying when we find out that he was in fact the murderer
    So to fix it, let the audience know that Hugh Grant is the murderer…and now we are watching him play/lie/scheme with Nicole…so the intrigue is about whether Hugh is a good enough manipulator or will Nicole eventually catch on?

    Like

    • YES! ABSOLUTELY!!! The story is Nicole moving from loving him, to tentatively supporting him, to being convinced of his guilt and sociopathy. Making him possibly not the murderer makes it a story about a guy who is a terrible guy, but maybe not a murderer.

      Although actually, that could have been interesting too. Imagine if the reveal is her husband DID kill her. But he is a loving father and a generally kind man who just snapped. While Hugh Grant is a sociopath who set up this whole horrible situation and feels no guilt for what he has done. So Nicole still frames him on the stand, knowing he is innocent, in order to make sure he is sent to jail to keep The World safe.

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  4. I actually liked this series quite a bit. And I loved the casting of Hugh Grant because he has this capacity to be super charming and sleazy at the same time. I would have preferred if the murder didn’t happen so much in the beginning, as it very quickly changed the tone of the series from character based to murder mystery. But other than that, I liked the show.

    Like

    • The Hugh Grant casting was VITAL. I kept watching mostly to see what his character would do next.

      On Thu, May 27, 2021 at 1:02 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Like

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