Pick up the history of successful shows and you’ll find that more often than not, it’s not the glamorous setting or the elite status presentation that makes a viewer come back for the second episode. While the setting does count, it’s more of the plot and its compelling characters that are burdened with the duty of making the show tick. And thus when it comes to David E. Kelley’s latest creation, The Undoing, starring the phenomenal pair of Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, it looks…rich but the story or maybe its treatment lacks depth and smells of a repeated troupe ‘cause it looks like it’s “always the f—— husband.”
The Undoing, even in the first leg of its journey, comes too close to resembling Kelley’s earlier work of perfection, Big Little Lies. Just like her character in BLL, Kidman is once again married to a wealthy man, though instead Alexander Skarsgård she is married to Hugh Grant’s Jonathan who initially appears to be an amazing husband and a kind human. But given the direction the story takes by the time the first episode reaches its conclusion, it appears that Jonathan may be hiding Perry Wright-like qualities– a cheating husband who is not above killing.
And that’s where the resemblance seems to have ceased as for now as The Undoing is just not what fans of Big Little Lies would like to suffice with till they get its third season. Even if we quit with the comparisons, this latest Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant starrer isn’t off to a great start.
Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Fraser, an uptown therapist who tends to the woes of the wealthy, particularly their failing marriages and pays an exuberant fee for her son’s (Noah Jupe) private school (while flaunting a wardrobe we would kill to get our hands on). Her life is seemingly easy– she has a great husband, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), counted amongst New York city’s top oncologist, who never says no to her, always appreciates her, a doting son, great friends, and an amazing career. But all it takes for her perfect life to upended on its head is for the appearance of a young artist, Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis) who joins the auction committee Grace is on, her son Miguel attends the same school as Grace’s son, both ladies go to the same gym and apparently frequent the same social circles.
The Undoing makes it very obvious that Elena is a sketchy character with oodles of interest in Grace as she throws shady glances at her. But that’s the thing, nothing is “whoa!” in here. Even when Elena dips in to drop a kiss on Grace’s lips, it wasn’t sudden, it could be seen coming from miles– there is no build-up of tension or suspense. Same goes for Elena’s out-of-the-blue death and the simultaneous disappearance of Jonathan who is quite possibly up to something fishy.
Just as the plot fails to perk up enough energy to make viewers care about a second episode, Nicole Kidman, unfortunately, fails to embody a character that would alone warrant a loyal audience. Constantly walking around with a stuck worried expression and with the camera just panning to her striking eyes, Kidman seems harried with her character personification here. Now, whether that’s deliberate with a decided motive and will the impossibly thin plot pick up its slack is left to be seen.