This interview was originally published on 5/13/21.

When last we left Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar) in the Season 1 finale of Prime Video’s Undone, she was waiting outside a cave in Mexico for her father, Jacob Winograd (Bob Odenkirk), to emerge after their timeline experiment. Season 2, which debuted on April 29, mines the depths of Alma’s journey to self-love, self-forgiveness and intergenerational healing. 

I recently had the privilege of chatting with Undone co-creator and executive producer Kate Purdy about the show’s profound themes, why Rotoscope is the perfect animation style to tell this story, Alma and Becca’s (Angelique Cabral) bond and more. 

RELATED: Catch up on all the time-traveling, sci-fi goodness with our Undone Season 2 recaps!

This interview is condensed for length and clarity. 

Melody McCune: What inspired you and Raphael Bob-Waksberg to create this show?

Kate Purdy: We loved working together on BoJack Horseman. I wrote the 11th episode of the first season, “Downer Ending.” It’s this trippy, self-exploration episode. After that, Raphael and producers Noel Bright and Steven Cohen from Tornante approached me about another show we could do together. So, Raphael and I started talking about what that show could be.

A lot of that episode of BoJack came from my personal experiences. I went through a breakdown and failing marriage and had a lot of self-discovery. I sought alternative medicine, healing, and meditation, and I started studying different spiritual philosophies and ancient texts.

We took our personal experiences and the differences in how we think and believe about the world and built that into the show.

One of the show’s central themes is the exploration of more important philosophical questions, but also the tension between different perspectives of reality and making space for all of our views of what reality is. To see the interplay of those perspectives without being didactic or telling anyone what’s true because it’s for us — an exploration of what the truth is.

Ultimately, the truth is the interaction of all those truths and perspectives. It exists, in a larger sense, outside of us.

Alma sitting on the ground while staring at something off camera in Undone Season 2 Episode 1 "The Cave."

Pictured: Alma (Rosa Salazar) in UNDONE Season 2 Episode 1, “The Cave.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

MM: Why did you choose Rotoscope as the animation style? Do you feel it adds more of a groundedness to the sci-fi setting?

KP: I think Rotoscoping makes the animation more grounded and plays with reality. It’s not widely used, and it blends live-action and animation. I think it also physically presents various realities. One of the major themes we’re exploring is, “What is reality?”

So, that’s one of the reasons to use it — how it plays into the show’s themes and gives you that sense of, “What is happening? This is not something I’m used to seeing.” It opens the mind. It’s also a wildly imagined space. It’s not photoreal, so it’s not telling you, “This is the truth.” It’s telling you, “This is an imaginative space to enter and ask questions and explore.”

Rotoscoping, specifically, isn’t a broad comedy. A lot of animation is, or it’s action-based. I think the reason for that is animation has some limitations. If you’re doing traditionally animated characters that aren’t Rotoscopes, you have to do more work to capture the incredible emotional nuance you get from brilliant performers like Rosa Salazar, Angelique Cabral, Constance Marie and all our performers. They bring so much to the roles and the feeling of the show.

That also takes you off guard; you’re not expecting to get that much from these animated characters. Traditionally, with animated characters, you see people in action being playful.

Bigger movements, things that aren’t as nuanced, can be easily expressed through character animation because that’s someone drawing those actions and figuring out together how the character’s moving and why they’re moving. It takes more work to be as nuanced as a genuine performance.

That was one of the reasons we did it. We wanted to capture all those micro-nuances and feelings because it’s a pretty emotional show, dramatic and comedic. It was essential to feel all of that but maintain the glory, wonderment, fun and excitement of being in an animated world, where there’s flexibility in what’s possible.

That was another important reason why we chose animation. We wanted the reality to feel fluid, and we didn’t want it to feel like a break in reality when things went CGI because, for Alma, everything that’s happening is real. It’s her experience. It’s not like any of it is not true to reality.

MM: How would you describe Season 2 using three words?

KP: Exploration of self.

MM: One of the golden rules of time travel is you can’t change the past, but Undone finds a loophole by bringing Jacob and Alma to an alternate timeline. What was the thought process behind experimenting with what sci-fi tells us about time travel?

KP: We don’t stick to established rules or establish strict rules in our universe because everything is more from a feeling state and a dreamscape reality of what emotionally feels true. We describe the show as more poetry than prose. It needs to feel right. It needs to feel authentic, and it doesn’t necessarily need to adhere to strict rules we’re establishing.

Becca and Alma standing in the sunlight in Undone Season 2 Episode 3 "Mexico."

Pictured: Becca (Angelique Cabral) and Alma (Rosa Salazar) in UNDONE Season 2 Episode 3, “Mexico.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

MM: Season 1 delves into the nature of time and trauma. It feels like a commentary on grief and how the grieving process is never linear. Would you say that’s true of Season 2 since we encounter heartache while Alma and Becca try to heal their family?

KP: I think it’s one of Alma’s processes she’s moving through — accepting her father’s death, which is a grieving process. That’s one of the themes and a vital part of the second season.

MM: Much of the narrative is driven by Alma’s relationships with those around her. In Season 2, we dive into her bond with Becca. How important was it to explore their sisterhood while working through intergenerational trauma?

KP: It seems like an essential part of the show because Alma recognizes how meaningful her relationships are and that she can’t do it alone. Physically, she can’t even operate her abilities or access them and needs her sister in a way she hasn’t before. Then, she realizes she needs other people and honors her relationships and her relationship with herself. Having self-love, self-forgiveness and understanding are essential. That comes through her relationship with her sister.

RELATED: Russian Doll Season 2 Thoughtfully Explores Motherhood and Trauma

MM: What you said leads to my final question. Season 2 ends with Alma returning to her original timeline to give herself love. Would you say self-love is a thematic crux of the series?

KP: I would say it’s one of them. I think deeper self-realization, understanding self and self-love are aspects of that. Learning to love ourselves through experience and forgiving all versions of ourselves. That comes in Season 2, specifically, through exploring lineage and those who’ve come before us who have suffered and need help while looking for self-realization, self-love and forgiveness.

Of course, there’s forgiveness, love of others, and finding peace through that emotional work. I think that is one of the central cruxes of the show. This show is constantly revealing itself to us.

Jacob, Alma and Becca stand outside at night while time warps around them in Undone Season 2 Episode 3 "Mexico."

Pictured (l-r): Jacob (Bob Odenkirk), Alma (Rosa Salazar) and Becca (Angelique Cabral) in UNDONE Season 2 Episode 3, “Mexico.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

MM: Thank you so much for chatting with me, Kate!

KP: Thank you, Melody!

Follow Kate Purdy on Twitter (@katypurdy), and stream Seasons 1 and 2 of Undone on Prime Video.

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