Calling a TV series or film a “hidden” or “underrated” gem seems rather cliché. But this is the best way to describe Prime Video’s Undone. The adult animated comedy-drama is as much a psychological and fantastical trip as it is an examination of our collective human experience. We dive into the world of Alma, a Mexican-American woman who gets thrown into a time-bending quest following a near-fatal car crash.
Undone season one takes us through her complex familial relationships. We get a surreal yet grounded window into her life as a person who uses a cochlear implant. And her desire to change her father’s untimely fate anchors it all. Now, fans will get the answers to Undone’s season finale questions—and much more—when season two drops on April 29. Nerdist caught up with Undone co-creator and executive producer Kate Purdy to chat about infusing her journey into the script, season two’s big themes, and the show’s potential future.
Nerdist: Before we jump into season two things, let’s go back to Undone season one’s final moments. We got left with this big cliffhanger that made us rethink everything we thought we knew to be true. What made you decide to throw that curve ball in and leave things in a lurch?
Kate Purdy: One of the themes we want to explore in the show is this central tension between perspectives of reality. This idea that there are believers and non-believers. There are skeptics and there are those who believe that there’s an unseen world at play. And that really comes from me and my co-creator [Raphael Bob-Waksberg] having discussions about philosophy and our own personal life experiences and wanting to weave that central tension to the show so that both perspectives can exist throughout the piece.
And so we wanted to leave the season in that central tension, essentially. Is [Alma’s father Jacob] going to come out of that cave or not? And does that mean that she’s either “crazy” or she’s not? Does that mean that there’s magic in the world or that the world is devoid of magic and only what we see is real? We were building to that pinnacle moment. And we’re really set on not giving answers, but asking questions. We feel like we don’t know. We don’t know what the truth is about reality. We only have our own perspectives and experiences that we can share.
Yeah, and that constant questioning is real for us. I found it really interesting that Undone‘s first and second seasons take things like being a seer and possible mental health diagnoses like schizophrenia and turn them into a strength, almost like a superpower of sorts. Tell me more about your inspiration and process for framing it in a way that empowers the characters but is also respectful.
We’re careful never to diagnose Alma specifically with schizophrenia but rather posit that as a possibility. We don’t really know exactly what’s happening with her and that comes from my own life… my grandmother’s schizophrenic and she had two brothers who also were. And there’s my parents have experienced some depression and anxiety. So have I.
I’ve never been diagnosed with schizophrenia. I’ve never sought a diagnosis, but I did go through a really difficult time in my life in 2012. I was in a failing marriage that was causing me to have a lot of anxiety and depression and suicidal thoughts. And I lost a lot of weight. And I started to manifest that in my body. My skin started to peel off and I felt like I was dying. I felt like there was no way out. I was stuck, like I was trapped under water.
How did you make it through such a difficult time?
I sought out alternative forms of healing through Ayurveda, which is from India… and other ancient traditions and wisdoms. I met people in the traditional Chinese medicine community, healers out of Hawaii, and other indigenous tribal leaders from Mexico and Central America. I ended up sitting and staying with them, and realized that there were all these ancient wisdoms that saw what I was experiencing a different way.
And I started meditating and taking herbs, and taking care of my body, and having self love, and realizing these people were loving and caring for me, even as a stranger, because they saw that I was grieving and that what I needed was love. I needed someone to love me and understand what I was going through. And through that I realized my dreams could have meaning and that there could be unseen ancestors. And I started to really feel like my grandmother was reaching through to me from the other side saying this is actually a gift.
I can see that where that interweaves into Alma’s story in Undone. What she goes through feels like a burden and it is pulling her away from many things but it is also pulling her towards something greater. And we really get to see the latter manifest in this new season. What are some of the major themes and topics in season two that you’re most excited for fans to be able to experience?
The exploration of generational trauma, this realizing that there are invisible ways we’re shaped by the people in our past. Our parents’ behavior towards us was shaped by their parents’ behavior towards them, and so forth… there are people [in our lineage] that we might even not even know about ,and their lives are influencing our lives in ways that we can’t even unconsciously understand. [Alma and Becca] realize that there are things that are inherently flawed and broken about who they are, regardless of timeline, that they need to dig deeper into. The mystery of what’s happening with their mom and then realizing like, ‘Oh, this is really multilayered.’ And there are a lot characters and lives at play here that [they] need to know more about in order to fully understand the scope of this.
And then I think the deeper theme too is, for Alma specifically, realizing the real work is going to be that internal journey. You can try to fix it everyone outside of you and everything outside of you throughout all of time and space. But ultimately without self love, acceptance, peace, and forgiveness, you might not ever feel resolved. You might not ever feel like you can just relax in the peace of being in good relationship with family. What really matters ultimately are these interpersonal relationships and you have to honor them and care for them the same way you need to honor and care for yourself. It goes out, but it also comes in.
And then I think another important theme of the season is acceptance… There are things we cannot stop. And wherever we go, there are going to be problems and hard times and things to overcome. And it’s about how do you do that through love and grace and friendship and family and love of self.
Yes. I hope Alma is able to find her inner balance one day. I’m really looking forward to fans seeing Camila’s story. In season one, there was always this withholding coming from her. This season gives her a chance to expand. How do you hope that her story will shift the perception that many viewers, and her family, have of her as a human being?
I hope everyone’s hearts just bloom with love for her because she is such an amazing mother and character. She’s gone through so much and she carries so much burden. And in a lot of ways, Becca has taken on those traits of just buttoning down, living best by society’s rules in order to succeed traditionally… But, that’s a really rickety structure to build around yourself that really won’t ultimately carry you through. [Viewers] see that structure start to fall apart and her deal with that. She needs help and is trying to make amends and isn’t able to juggle all the plates between the different lives she’s been leading…She’s got so much to prove to herself that her daughters aren’t even aware of.
Absolutely! So, do you feel like this is the end of the Undone story? Or is there more to explore within that universe?
We would love to explore more! One thing that we’ve come to realize about this show, I think, is that it feels like it has something that it wants to say and we’re just listening and helping it…There’s so many collaborators and they’re so brilliant. All the people, all the artists, the composer, our editor, everyone is so amazing. And everyone brings so much to it that it feels like if this show wants to keep going, we’re there to figure out the next chapter of it and tell that story. I think it would be exciting to figure out what that is.
But we’ll see, because we try to make sure that every season feels like it also concludes, just in case we don’t give it a next season, so that it feels whole. And we’ve done a journey, we’ve read a chapter, and we can continue and find an exciting new chapter or we can say, “Great, we told the story and we’ll just wait to hear and see does it want to continue or not.”