Olivia’s Opinions: I Binge-Watched This New Animated Series in a Day

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Olivia Janicek, CEO

Olivia’s Opinions is back! Please keep in mind this is an opinionated piece, and I may not agree with your point of view. If you have commentary on the subject, please feel free to comment below. Ideas are always welcome!

“Undone” is a short series produced by Amazon’s Prime Video. It is rated TV-MA, so please watch with caution.  

Let me start by saying, I’m not the biggest fan of animated shows. Like many individuals, I feel as though my love of animated stories has died out as I’ve aged (though Phineas and Ferb still holds a special place in my heart). I’m aware that animated shows for adults exist (ex: Rick and Morty and even The Simpsons). Yet, even despite their popularity, I’ve never really gotten into them.

Spiderman Into the Spiderverse prevailed as my first taste of enthralling animated storytelling. The film harnessed the creativity of animation to truly translate its comic-book origins as cinematic art. It transformed the story into a compelling masterpiece of visual fabrics to treat the eye and entertain the mind. For a supposed ‘kids’ film, its cinematography endured as anything but.

I didn’t stumble upon another intriguing animated title until scrolling through Instagram one afternoon. An ad appeared, amidst all the posts of football games and senior pictures. The video ad, one that featured two animated characters conversing at a bar, relentlessly materialized in my feed, showing up each time I opened the app. The ad looked different than other animated series I’d seen. Upon further research, I discovered the technique they’d used: rotoscoping. In rotoscope animation, artists draw over each scene of real footage. The result is an aesthetically pleasing, yet inexplicably realistic animated sequence. Though tormented by the ad’s recurring appearance in my feed, I felt slightly intrigued by this unique technique. So, I followed the advertisement to Amazon‘s newly released “Undone” series. I watched the trailer and felt interested enough to click ‘play’.

What ensued was a long day of binge-watching and a rant to my mother about the show.

For context, “Undone” follows a young woman as she gains the ability to communicate with her dead father after a car accident. Oh, and she can time-travel. Sort of. Though slightly confusing and mildly predictable at times, I adored the show’s unification of unrealistic sci-fi elements with realistic characters. All the characters were believable and complex (some more than others), with their stories compelled by legitimate emotion. I especially admired the development of the father-daughter relationship, which materialized through epic time travel scenes and emotional yet true dialogue. Even amidst the eccentric plot moments, the show still dedicated time for tender conversations and admirable character growth.

As a fan of sci-fi series, I also appreciated “Undone”‘s unique take on the genre. Its sci-fi elements- however complex- arrived as highly mysterious and riveting. The rotoscope animation technique complimented the sci-fi aspect of the show perfectly, granting leeway for incredibly alluring action sequences. Time travel’s never looked more stunning.

In short: I adored the show. I found it comedic, dramatic, thought-provoking, and overall just… captivating.

But it’s not for everyone. My mother refuses to watch the series… because it’s animated. I’ll admit, the rotoscope technique left me a little uneasy at first. Everything looks somewhat real, but somewhat not. It’s difficult to comprehend. Yet once my eyes acclimated and I settled into the story, I couldn’t stop watching. I don’t think the medium of a show should discourage someone from watching it. Sure it’s new and unorthodox, yet the story’s compelling. The animation just makes things even more interesting.

I don’t think “Undone” will be the last animated – or rotoscope series- we see. With the abundance of streaming services, there’s a constant pressure to diversify from the norm. Even among the thousands of television episodes available at a click, “Undone” certainly stands out. It’s intricate animation style allows it to do so. The rotoscope style even strengthens the story with unbelievable and unseen visual flair. Beyond mere standing out, “Undone” serves as an example of filmmakers broadening the boarders of artistic entertainment. Streaming services lack the same ‘rules’ and ‘norms’ as cable, thus allowing exploration of new uncharted terrorities of cinema. Film’s evolving, and “Undone” offers a glimpse of the next stage.

Of course, if you’re not looking to ‘expand your understanding of cinema’ or ‘explore new mediums of story’, that’s fine too. “Undone” is an entertaining show and I’d totally binge-watch it again.