I recently watched The Undoing and watching it made me think of Defending Jacob, which I watched a few months ago. For those of you who don't know, they are both limited series. The Undoing is six episodes long and is on HBO. Defending Jacob is an Apple TV original series that was eight episodes long. Both take place in a courtroom/homes of the defendants and lots of speculation from the first episode.
SPOLIERS AHEAD: If you haven't watched either show and plan to, please stop here!
In Defending Jacob, Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber is in the predicament that a small town is trying to figure out what happened to a local boy who was found murdered in the local park. As clues unravel, his son becomes the prime suspect and therefore Andy has to step down from the investigation.
Throughout the entire season, the speculation that the son did it varies. At some points, you believe this child isn't capable of this gruesome act and there are other times you find there's no way he wasn't guilty. By the time the season finale happens, you're still stuck wondering. This does deviate from the original book by the same name but the progression of the story is quite good!
For one, Chris Evans is a gorgeous man, regardless if he's in red, white, and blue or wearing a nice pair of slacks and a shirt. His character is very compelling as well, in stark comparison to his wife, Laurie. He shows a lot of realistic reactions to what a father would do, say, or act if their child was accused of murder.
His wife on the other hand, absolutely the most annoying woman in the world. I'm uncertain as to why writers feel the need to portray women as these crazy, unable to control their emotions, creatures that even when it comes to their children, we can't keep our shit straight. I understand the momentary thoughts of your child being a murderer, but to take the law into your own hands to then attempt to kill that child, I don't understand.
The young man who plays Jacob, very believable performance. Granted, I don't know any teenage murderers to compare his act to, I'd imagine a child psychopath would act like that. He did it so well, I'm certain he'll be cast in this type of role again in the future. To make it better, towards the finale, you believe he did it when a young woman disappears while they are on vacation, further fueling Andy's emotional rollercoaster that his son is killer. When the girl later turns up, trust has already been destroyed and the speculation remains. But it's too late for the mother, she's made up her mind and wants her son to admit he killed the kid.
I don't know about you, but if I was Andy, I'd want to kill my wife. He KNEW that she was going to do what she did and it eats him alive. You notice this from the very first episode where he's actually testifying about his wife trying to kill his son through a car crash. The story was exceptionally compelling and I was quite pleased with the finale, even though it remains ambiguous as to Jacob's true innocence.
In comparison to The Undoing, the man under fire consistently makes the viewer believe his innocence, which makes for an interesting who done it scenario. The primary focus surrounds his wife and how unnerved she becomes as the evidence piles up. Based on her level of crazy ramping up to a thousand, I'd honestly thought she had a split personality disorder that daddy never told her about. The shows focus seemed to be on the idea of wealthy society getting away with many things and the wife's ridiculously rich father attempting to shield her and her son from the crossfire.
There is a great many things I could point out that didn't advance the plot, but this show started good then ended in disappointment. Part of the appeal for the show is, without a doubt, the genuine belief the husband didn't commit the murder and the thought of who did. But for them to go the traditional route that he did, was disappointing, to say the least. The moment he was arrested, everything points to him and you think, well that's too obvious. So the fact that it was that shows a tremendous lack of creativity. Then, he wasn't even committed enough to jump off the bridge or death by cop. Like damn, that would've made it that much... more. Just more than it was. Then of course the stupid amount of I'm rich and privileged thrown around that show, sheesh.
One of the biggest things that annoyed me about the show at every turn was the wife. Nicole Kidman's character was beyond annoying. Anyone with half a brain would talk to the police with an attorney present, especially if they ask her to come down to the station. Every time she opened her mouth, I wanted to slap her. Secondly, betraying her husband the way she did at the end, she never gave him the benefit of the doubt even after they made it so painfully obvious she liked to err on optimism at every turn. Hugh Grant's character was well done as was the starry-eyed son. So, again I ask, why do writers feel compelled to create these annoying and mostly unrealistic female leads? Don't even get me started on the Italian woman who is supposed to be Hispanic [who looks like Jennifer Lawrence with dark hair and a thick accent]. Or the conversations had between the wife and her best friend whose an attorney.
Defending Jacob receives an 8.5/10 score from me for overall compelling performances, intriguing plot, and surprising [and emotional] ending. Definitely worth watching.
The Undoing receives a 6.5/10 score given the plots inconsistency and lack of intellectual intrigue. The ending was trash and it lacked emotional connection. You can take it or leave it.