Suspense Simmers, as Does the Class Conflict, in HBO’s The Undoing
The Undoing. HBO. Sunday, October 25, 9 p.m.
Much has been made of all the big-name TV producers like Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes who’ve left broadcast and basic cable networks for greener pastures among the streaming services like Netflix.
But the most amazing transformation of all has been that of David E. Kelley. Since freeing himself of network obsessions with Nielsen points, demos, and censors (yeah, they still exist, although your parents would probably find that hard to believe), he’s turned out a string of intelligent and exciting suspense series unequaled by any another producer I can think of in the history of the medium. Mr. Mercedes (AT&T’s now defunct Audience Network), Big Little Lies (HBO) and now The Undoing (debuting on HBO this weekend) have all been exquisitely written and acted, melding doubt, tension, wit and occasional outright terror into simmering pots of dread.
Kelley’s latest, The Undoing (based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2014 novel You Should Have Known), is a murder story so full of plot twists and turns, so many characters shedding snakish skins, that it’s nearly impossible to write about with scattering spoilers around like confetti. Yet in no way does it turn on plot gimmickry. It’s about trust and relationships, authenticity and appearances, verisimilitude and veneers.
It starts off benignly enough. At one point, New York City power couple Grace and Jonathan Fraser (Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant) are considering how much upheaval would result from leaving their posh Upper East Side apartment for the ‘burbs.
“We don’t have a lot of close friends,” points out Grace, somewhat wis
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