“Dead to Me” is a witty, dark series that focuses on friendship and grief. It stars well-known actresses Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini as Jen and Judy, two women who meet through grief counseling as they both try and deal with recent losses. Jen lost her husband after a hit-and-run, while Judy is mourning her fiancé. By the end of the first episode, it’s clear the show isn’t what it seems to be at first glance, which is a simple comedy strictly about the loss of a loved one. Viewers know by that point to get ready for the many twists and turns the addicting plot promises to take.
Applegate and Cardellini do a marvelous job carrying the series. It’s easy to sympathize with their characters as they’re relatable to the audience through their personalities. By the end of their first meeting in the pilot, one can already get a clear sense of who each woman is at their core. Jen is resentful and defensive with her guard up; she doesn’t know how to let other people help her, and she’s always struggling to allow herself to be happy and carefree. Judy balances her out. As much as life keeps leaning against her favor, Judy remains an optimistic person who’s always looking for the bright side.
The bond shared between the two women is immensely powerful. Both of them are supportive of one another and let the other express raw emotions without judgment or resistance. The realism and layers of the characters combined with the strength and talent of the actresses is one of the biggest highlights of the series.
Heartbreak and loss is something that often brings people closer together, making it a realistic foundation for the basis of Jen and Judy’s relationship. Their friendship is strong and nuanced, and as the core of the show, it presents a different side of grief. It can often be difficult to comfort a friend or relative dealing with death. The very first scene of the show illustrates this with Jen reluctantly accepting food from a sympathetic friend while she gives off the impression that she doesn’t want the company.
With “Dead to Me,” the characters get to grieve alongside someone knowing exactly how they feel, letting the women understand each other in ways no one else is able to. The show also covers other relatable and relevant topics through these characters such as miscarriage.
The show itself starts off very strong, not needing to find its footing or ramp up until later, but rather, it grabs viewers right away in its premiere. It’s addicting and with only 10 episodes that are roughly 30 minutes each, it’s a fairly easy, quick watch. There are no stale or stagnant moments, and the episodes are scattered with twists that keep the plot exciting and unpredictable.
While the first half of the show is arguably better due to sharper plotlines, the second half is by no means a waste to watch. At times, “Dead to Me” can be blunt, dark and thrilling, while at other times it can be extremely funny and witty and even make fun of itself through exaggerated acting for odd characters. Though perhaps this gives it an inconsistent tone, it works in the show’s favor, avoiding being dragged down by too many dull moments.
There are a myriad of directions “Dead to Me” could go in if it gets a second season. With more development, the characters and story could be taken to new heights. It’s hard not to wish for a second installment due to cliffhangers and questions the show leaves with viewers, but if everything wasn’t given the chance to be further resolved with another season, the show would still be a solid watch. With its characters, twists and exploration of real-life topics, “Dead to Me” is one of Netflix’s most worthy additions yet.
Contact Kira Baldau at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.