The domestic violence on the HBO series is as "everyday as plots get," says Eve Gerber. "In 2018, an average of three women were murdered by an intimate partner every day in the U.S. This is likely the umpteenth piece you’ve seen about The Undoing, but the spotlight turned on the series has shone everywhere but domestic violence. Vogue writes about 'The Secrets Behind Nicole Kidman’s Natural Makeup Look in The Undoing.' Time writes about Donald Sutherland’s eyebrow acting. And New York writes about Grace’s coats. Why aren’t critics talking about violence against women and Hollywood’s habitual commodification of it? Maybe because knowing how common it is for a woman to be beaten to death might disturb our enjoyment of watching it happen, again and again and again. And who wants to ruin a distraction by focusing on reality?"
The Undoing could have been perfect trash, but it was instead the Lifetime version of True Detective: The HBO series "was sublimely nonsensical, complete with hilariously impossible courtroom scenes and a helicopter landing on a bridge so the heroine can storm a police perimeter to save her son from the wild-eyed villain who holds his arms out to her," says Lili Loofbourow. "This was a Lifetime version of True Detective, so similarly unhinged from the genres it’s in dialogue with while trying to aspirationally transcend them that it fails at plot and psychology and metacommentary all at once. It left me breathless with glee. Just a beautifully attired marvel of a mess. Some fans have suggested that The Undoing is mistakenly classified as a whodunit when it’s actually a 'psychological thriller.' This defense usually pops up to justify the fact that the show’s twist is, so to speak, an anti-twist: The guy who is suspected of doing it turns out, in the end, to have done it. 'It’s an indictment of the viewer!' some viewers optimistically suggest, positing that the show is critiquing a cultural tendency to excuse and exonerate white men, especially wealthy and charismatic ones. (It would be nice if this were true because this is a real tendency!) I can understand why that reading is attractive: Hugh Grant’s charm, the narcissistic downsides of which the actor makes lusciously available, is kind of interesting in this inverted mode, and the show does sporadically dip into discussions of privilege. But The Undoing just isn’t doing that, sorry. For one thing, its world is one where cops are reluctant to arrest the poor man of color with a violent temper and a weak-to-nonexistent alibi, preferring to arrest the wealthy and popular white oncologist. Maybe that’s critiquing a system, but it’s not the one we know. Any critique of systemic privilege more or less collapses when Jonathan’s conduct gets coded as less representative of a type than as exceptional and even monstrous."
The Undoing was perfect pandemic television: "Despite its underwhelming ending it was perfect pandemic TV," says Arwa Mahdawi. "Many us have been spending lockdown looking at property porn, imagining all the glamorous places we could be quarantined if only our budgets allowed, and The Undoing was full of fabulously wealthy New Yorkers in extremely fancy homes. You got to marvel at the 1%’s mansions while simultaneously feeling glad you weren’t one of them because they were all so sad or sociopathic. I also enjoyed watching Kidman strut around Manhattan in her collection of fancy coats. It’s weird to feel homesick for the city that you live in, but seeing New York in all its pre-pandemic glory did exactly that."