True crime fan? Watch The Undoing

Eva Williams, Features Editor

Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman
Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, two A-list actors, play a married couple that aren’t as perfect as they seem in The Undoing. (Photo via HBO)

Somehow, HBO Max came with my family’s cable package. I scrolled through the app for a couple of minutes upon its download, and when I saw Hugh Grant’s face on the cover of a show, I clicked on it. I had just watched him in one of his most iconic roles, as the prime minister of Great Britain in Love Actually, to celebrate the holiday season. He dances, he sings, he chases his former secretary around London to confess his love. 

He does not do any of these things in The Undoing. It is a dark, who-dunnit mystery, with mild gore and a lot of crying. It is far from a pick-me-up during this time of isolation and fear we are living through. It sounds strange to say that on holiday break I watched a show following a murder investigation’s destruction of a family. 

But with so many stuck at home, true crime stories and podcasts became somewhat of a trend. My Favorite Murder joined the Top 10 podcast list on Spotify. The Vow, the docuseries following the NXIVM cult, made waves. I think my mom listened to every single episode of the Dateline podcast. I, too, have found myself wrapped up into the phenomenon, watching The Undoing, The Flight Attendant, and The Betty Broderick Story. 

Here’s the basic plot. Grace, a psychologist, is played by Nicole Kidman, whose acting abilities are put on full display. Her husband, Jonathan, a children’s oncologist, is played by Hugh Grant. Grace and Jonathan are a married couple of fifteen years, living in an incredible New York City apartment with their 12-year old son, Henry, played by Noah Jupe (from A Quiet Place, Ford v Ferrari, and Wonder).

When the mother of a classmate of Henry’s is found murdered, Grace and Jonathan become wrapped up in the investigation, almost everyone in their lives becoming a suspect — including Jonathan. The story is largely from the perspective of Grace, and the audience watches as she stands up for his character. But then she learns he’s lied in the past, and isn’t who he said he was — so how should she know if he’s not a murderer too? 

While running from the police and the husband of the murder victim, more pieces of the puzzle fall into place for Grace. She struggles to protect her son and maintain a normal composure when so much of her life has spiraled into chaos. The audience, too, learns more episode by episode about what happened, and whether or not Grace herself can be trusted. By the last episode, all is revealed in a high-stakes chase.

The Undoing is far from perfect. There are questions left unanswered and the plot goes a little awry in later episodes, leading it to receive criticism from most review sites. However, it makes up for this in the interesting filmography and beautiful costumery. The show is filmed on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where Gossip Girl was also filmed. The style of filming is unique — mid-sentence, shots of characters are cut off to other scenes, while the characters’ dialogue plays overhead. The show has stunning sets, with incredible interior design. 

If you’re a true crime fan looking for a weekend binge, watch The Undoing. Despite its flaws, it’s dramatic, suspenseful, and really interesting. You won’t regret it! 

Note: viewer discretion is advised.