2020 may be an abomination, but it’s not a total write-off. At the very least, TV gods have gifted audiences with plenty of new series to distract from the devastation, chaos and tragedy this most recent trip around the sun has brought. Though not all critic favorites, “Perry Mason,” “Ratched,” “Emily in Paris,” “Upload,” “Hollywood,” “The Vow,” and “The Undoing” are undoubtedly entertaining. The latter, David E. Kelley’s latest foray onto the small screen with stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, just hit HBO last week.
Set in Manhattan, the six-part series tells the story of prestigious couples therapist Grace Fraser (Kidman), whose upper-echelon world begins to unravel when a fellow mother at her son’s elite private school is brutally murdered and her husband, beloved children’s oncologist Jonathan Fraser (Grant), goes missing at the same time. Loosely based upon Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2014 mystery “You Should Have Known,” the show is basically “Big Little Lies” set on the island of Manhattan. Instead of beachfront mansions and colorful costume parties, we get pre-war brownstones and swanky penthouse soirees. (And yes, that is Kidman singing the haunting theme song.)
Reviews are mixed, but Variety hit the nail on the head with this contention, “That ‘The Undoing’ falls apart under scrutiny probably won’t matter all that much. Plenty of viewers will undoubtedly be thrilled to tune in to a glossy HBO drama starring two of the world’s most telegenic people in a story tailor-made for true crime podcasts.” Though only two episodes have aired so far, the twists and turns, dark undertones of the various characters, elegant wardrobes, and extravagant locations have all managed to suck me right in.
One of the main locales, the elite academy at the center of the story known as The Reardon School, I recognized straightaway as the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (a tongue twister if I’ve ever heard one!). I have long been familiar with the Upper East Side site thanks to its regular appearance as Constance Billard School for Girls/St. Jude’s School for Boys on The CW hit “Gossip Girl.” Situated on the corner of Park Ave. and E. 93rd St., the sprawling locale is actually an amalgamation of properties that dates back to 1918.
For more Dirt on the Synod of Bishops, click over to the gallery.