I’ve finally gotten around to watching “Unforgotten,” the British detective show, now on Netflix, starring Nicola Walker (whom I liked a lot in “Last Tango in Halifax” and the National Theatre’s brilliant Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). Something about the title jogged my memory: It felt like I’d been seeing a lot of un- titles and names lately. So I did some digging. And I was right.
Unplanned, an anti-abortion feature film, was released in the U.S. on March 29 and became a surprise hit. (Maybe not such a surprise: Vice President Mike Pence, noted Christianist and self-proclaimed friend of the fetus, publicly endorsed it.) As of April 25 it had grossed more than $17.5 million.
The film’s working title was Redeemed, but Unplanned hits a stronger anti–Planned Parenthood note.
Unsane, a thriller starring Claire Foy and directed by Steven Soderbergh, was released in 2018. It lingers unwatched on my Amazon Prime Video watchlist.
Unsane was filmed on an iPhone.
Netflix released the fourth and final season of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” in January 2019.
Related, linguistically: Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand (2010), which was made into a 2014 movie directed by Angelina Jolie.
Last year I read Unbelievable, NBC reporter Katy Tur’s account of weathering abuse while covering the Trump campaign in 2015 and 2016.
Update, October 2019: The eight-part series Unbelievable, starring Merritt Wever, Kaitlyn Dever, and Toni Collette, was released by Netflix on September 13. The series is based on “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” an article by Ken Armstrong and T. Chrstian Miller that was published in 2015 by ProPublica and which won a 2016 Pulitzer Prize.
Unpresidented, published in December 2018, is the “riveting, meticulously researched, and provocative biography of Donald J. Trump from the author of Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary,” Martha Brockenbrough.
The title comes from a misspelling of unprecedented in a tweet sent by the president-elect in December 2016.
And it isn’t only titles: In a local grocery store I spotted a new-to-me coffee brand, Unleashed. The company is based here in the Bay Area (San Rafael); the coffee is grown in Brazil.
The story behind the name: “Our mission is to unleash the quality of coffees from our farm to your cup and to reveal the potential of the people working with coffee throughout the whole coffee chain: farming, roasting and brewing.”
The Whitney Museum in New York took a cue from countless artworks and titled its on-site restaurant Untitled.
Image via Eater NY
Most of the world’s grapevines are grafted to protect them from the devastating root louse phylloxera. “Some people say grapes from ungrafted vines are superior—more intense and flavorful, and with better aging potential, writes Wine Spectator’s Dr. Vinny. “I think it’s also a marketing ploy to put ‘ungrafted’ on the label as a way to stand out from the pack.”
Un- “is the pre-eminent negative prefix in present-day English,” writes R.M.W. Dixon in Making New Words: Morphological Derivation in English (2014). It’s flexible and versatile: You can add it to “a simple adjective root” (unequal, unfair), to “an adjective which is derived from a noun through one of a variety of suffixes” (un-luck-y, un-sea-worthy), to “an adjective which is derived from a verb, again through use of a number of suffixes” (un-break-able, un-like-able), or added to a noun (un-ease, un-truth, un-birthday party). Some un- words are older than their positive counterparts: English has had unbearable since 1449 but bearable only from 1550.
As Ralphie Wiggum would say: “That’s un-possible!”