Programming Review: ‘The Undoing’

The Undoing
'The Undoing' (Image credit: HBO)

HBO wraps the world of the rich and privileged around an irresistible whodunit crime drama in The Undoing. Big Little Lies producer David E. Kelley created The Undoing, based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel You Should Have Known. Like his prior Emmy-winning limited series, Kelley enlists Nicole Kidman to play a well-to-do woman who finds herself involved in a murder mystery.  Susanne Bier serves as director of the series. 

Kidman plays therapist Grace Fraser, who’s married to equally successful pediatric oncologist Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant). The couple and their young son, Henry (Noah Jupe), lived the life of luxury in New York, where Grace’s most pressing concerns outside of her practice is planning fundraising events for her son’s private school with other socialite mothers.

Things get interesting when a new mother, Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis) joins the planning club. Not blessed with the same financial and societal privilege as the other mothers, Elena takes a particular interest in Grace. A very engaging gym locker room meeting between the two gives Grace pause about Elena’s intentions, but she nevertheless decides to befriend her. 

Grace’s world then turns upside down after a brutal murder occurs. Upon learning of the crime, Grace is unable to reach her husband, who is supposed to be on a business trip, leading to worry on her part and speculation about his whereabouts from a pair of detectives (played by Edgar Ramirez and Michael Devine).

The story shifts into a search for answers as to the who committed the murder, with several surprising developments evolving from evidence and other facts brought out in a highly  publicized court case that pits class, wealth and privilege against the truth.  

Kidman and Grant turn in excellent performances as a tortured couple, along with Donald Sutherland as Grace’s protective father. Fans of true-crime podcasts will revel in the unwinding of details of the crime, with several twists and turns sure to keep viewers tuned into all six episodes to see how it will ultimately be resolved. 

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.