Dead to Me is a dark comedy starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini. I didn’t know quite what to expect when I started watching.
Jen has recently lost her husband Ted to a hit-and-run. Her life is in shambles and she has trouble coping with her two children and as a result, she hardly sleeps. At a grief support group meeting she meets Judy. The two of them hit it off and that helps Jen make some headway in dealing with her grief.
But not everything is as it seems, and as the two grow closer, skeletons start falling from their closets.
As you can see from the description above, Dead to Me isn’t a sit-com, or something you would slap a laugh track on. But it does have a mix of drama, funny situations, and absurdity that really grab you.
Christina Applegate plays Jen. Until now, she was always Kelly Bundy from Married… with Children to me, which does her a disservice. Watching her in this show was weird, but damn, she does a good job. She manages to make Jen a real person, a damaged person with anger issues, but a real person nonetheless.
Linda Cardellini is Judy, the altruistic, slightly deranged counter-part to Jen. She too, is awesome. Judy is a good foil character to Jen. She’s polite where Jen is angry, kind where Jen is mean, but underneath that, Judy has problems while Jen wears most of hers on her sleeve. Despite this, the both of them are really good friends.
Jen and Judy are what the story is about, but they are surrounded by some other less important but memorable characters. Judy’s ex Steve is an important part of the story. I can’t reveal a lot about him without spoilers. Suffice it to say, after watching season one I have to say ‘hat off to the writers’. The more you learn about Steve, the more interesting he gets.
And I have to mention Father Wayne, and Christopher. The first is the pastor leading the grief support group Jen and Judy attend. The second Jen’s business partner. Both of them are not present very much, but they manage to hit just the right balance between comic relief and serious character.
I didn’t expect to like Dead to Me very much. It got high praise, so I decided to watch the first episode, but more from a ‘sure, why not, I can’t find anything else right now’ than from actual enthusiasm. About halfway through the first episode I changed that to ‘this is pretty good’. By the end of the first episode, I was truly shaken, and hooked.
I had that same response to The Good Place, and since I’ve finished all seasons of that, this makes me happy.
That said, this show isn’t for everybody. It’s pretty dark in places, and you might hate either of the protagonists, in which case, you’re not going to like this show. I liked it, though, and I’d recommend it heartily. Although, I admit, I hear terrible things about the second season of Dead to Me.