Low Key


'Undone': Let's Try to Interpret Amazon's Animated Achievement

Season 1, Ep. 43

How to interpret Amazon's acclaimed animated series "Undone"?

The series is about a 28-year-old woman named Alma (Rosa Salazar) who suffers a serious car accident and develops the ability to communicate with her long-dead father Jacob (Bob Odenkirk). She also becomes unstuck in time, and learns to bounce back and forth across decades to try to understand how her father died.

The show leaves many questions open, including whether Anna is really traveling through time, or suffering from a serious mental illness. The show, which reminds us of Richard Linklater's "A Scanner Darkly," occupies an interesting place between real-life and dreams. It makes you appreciate life, reality, and the ability to tell reality from dreams.

Every week on "Low Key" we talk about pop-culture subtleties we think others may have missed, and "Undone" leaves a lot of details open to interpretation. Everyone in the supporting cast feels human and compelling, and almost everyone has ethically troubling secrets. Alma has to not only decipher what's happening in her own mind, but also in everyone else's. 

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The Midnight Gospel Might Be the Near-Future of TV

Season 1, Ep. 60
Netflix's trippy The Midnight Gospel, from comedian Duncan Trussell and animator Pendleton Ward, might be a model for pandemic era TV shows: It asks the big questions in life without requiring any actors to get too close to each other.The series is about a scamp named Clancy Gilroy (voiced by Trussell), who uses a butt-shaped simulator to travel to different worlds and interview people for his "spacecast," which is basically a podcast, about questions like what happens when we die, why death is so essential to life, and what it means to be enlightened. You can appreciate it for the deep, philosophical conversations Trussell has with the other beings he encounters (voiced by guests as varied as Dr. Drew Pinsky, Damien Echols, Anne Lamott and Ram Dass), or you can enjoy the insane animated shenanigans, such as the zombie war in the first episode. Or you can enjoy both. The show mixes high and low.Its formula — interesting conversations brought to vivid life through animation — seems like a very intriguing answer to the question of how to make a TV show at a time when so many of us are in quarantine. Innovative moviemakers could easily script and voice their stories separately, and then unite them through animation.Does The Midnight Gospel work? We discuss. But there's no question it's thought provoking — The Midnight Gospel inspired us to think about real v. simulated reality, and our tendency toward self-destructiveness. By the end of the episode we've covered everything from Animal Crossing to the Michael Jordan doc The Last Dance to, of course, COVID-19. Stick your head in the simulator and join us.