Undone - TV Series

Updated: Jul 9

As with all posts on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete synopsis of the tv series, but rather to document how the series relates to the meaning of life. With that said, be forewarned, there are still spoilers ahead.

Undone is an animated Amazon Original television series that was released September 13th, 2019, and revolves around the character Alma Winograd-Diaz who just so happens to be going through a midlife crisis. In fact, Alma (which means soul), early in episode one, states the following to her sister:

I'm so bored of living. I wake up every morning in the same bed with the same person. I shower. I brush my teeth. I get dressed. And I eat the same breakfast. And then take the same commute to work. I’m 28 years old, and I’m terrified this is all there is. Sometimes, I’ll be in the store, and I’ll be looking at two different cans of beans, and I’ll think ‘These beans are better. No, these beans are better.’ And then I’ll think, ‘That’s the most boring thought anyone’s ever had.’ I mean, God! Everything is pointless.

Her sister, of course, hears none of Alma's existential woes because she is too busy thinking about her upcoming marriage … a relationship built more on the fantasy of love, rather than love itself.

But all is well that ends well, right? Things for Alma are drastically about to get a little more exciting. She breaks up with her boyfriend, gets her sister drunk, and encourages her to cheat on her fiancé (which she does), then goes out for a drive and ends up in a pretty bad car accident that lands her in the hospital.

After the car accident, Alma seems to slip throughout time and space. One minute being in the future, the next in the past in a completely different location. Her dead father, Jacob, helps her control her newfound … abilities? Or perhaps, her newfound schizophrenia. Whatever the case, Alma's dad tells her that he didn't just die in a car accident, someone killed him, and she has to help him find out who did it, help him change the past so that it never happens, so that he can have a second chance at life.

In episode 2, Jacob gives Alma a choice—to go back to her normal life, or to embrace the amazing. He says to Alma's younger version the night of his death:

I never got that story. You know, you’ve got this girl, Dorothy, right? She’s living a normal, boring life, and she gets a chance to live an exciting life, and all she wants to do is go home. Hey, if you had a chance to do something amazing, would you just want everything to return to normal?

Jacob then to Alma's older self:

I mean, you can choose to tune all this out, and you can go back to the life you were living. And just keep living it, and living it, and living it. (Alma sees flashes of her life, her future self, more beans, death of her husband.) Or you can try something different. A life that doesn’t follow a paint-by-numbers timeline. Or any timeline at all. A life where anything can happen, at any time. A life without limitations. 

Alma chooses the amazing, chooses not to return to her normal life. Eventually, she learns a lot about her father's death and who killed him. As it would turn out, Jacob killed himself, and his research assistant after his wife broke up with him for running scientific tests on Alma, and perhaps, although it was never made clear, cheating on her as well. With the mystery finally solved, Alma tries to change the past one last time to try to bring her father back.

Whether she is successful or not, the finale leaves us with a cliffhanger, never fully resolving or telling us directly. There are hints, but nothing conclusive. Waiting for her father to reappear, sitting outdoors watching the sunrise adjacent of a temple, Alma and her sister Becca have the following conversation:

Alma: Don’t you want there to be more? Don’t you believe there has to be more? 

Becca: I don’t know. I mean, we’re sitting here watching a beautiful sunrise on ancient ruins. The trees … the birds … the clouds … real life is also pretty amazing.

Alma: Yeah, I know. 

So what does the series say about the meaning of life? Actually, not much, other than getting viewers to think about their mundane existences, to get viewers to wake up and to think about life, death, and everything in between—and even a bit of what lies beyond the two great boundaries of consciousness. To think about the amazing, and to ponder the experience What is clear, Becca grounded in the mundane was living just as much in a fantasy world as her sister Alma, just as much as we all do in our daily commutes, our listless careers, our inconsequential choices—this can of beans or that one. And that is the point I believe the series was trying to make about life. Whether we opt of the amazing is up to us.

If you saw the series, what do you think? The series was created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy.

#nihilism #death