It’s the situation we’re all facing in the time of the Coronavirus; you’ve exhausted your go-to binge-watch titles, you’ve run out of games on Switch, and you’re overwhelmed with the possibility of what you should watch next. The good news is, Dead To Me is waiting for you and once you check it out, you’ll be very glad you did.
The series, which stars Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, debuted on Netflix last year and quickly established itself as one of 2019’s critically acclaimed programs. Jen Harding is a recent widow, having suddenly lost her husband in a hit-and-run. Judy Hale is an enigmatic free spirit who also has suffered loss. Both meet at a grief counseling meeting and despite their different personalities, bond over their shared tragedies.
I know what you’re thinking: a tragicomedy about grief? How is that supposed to help me feel better in this time of Coronavirus-related stress? Yes, while Dead To Me is a show about a woman dealing with the untimely death of her husband, with frank talk of death, depression, other serious issues, it’s just as much comedic as it is heavy-handed. And that combination will hook you instantly.
If it doesn’t, however, here’s a few more reasons why we recommend checking out this great series.
It’s An Easy Watch
Each of the show’s ten episodes are only half an hour long. Trust me, you’ll burn through those half-hours faster than you think. Part of what makes Dead To Me so good is the storytelling, and the show pulls no punches when it comes to plot. It moves fast, establishing relationships, setting up mysteries, and answering questions in almost every episode. It packs so much into each 30 minute segment that you never feel bored. You also never feel overwhelmed, however — a delicate balance that works to the show’s advantage. Every twist and every new plotline perfectly intertwines to thread a narrative that hooks you and leaves you wanting more. Or with perfect cliffhangers that will have you yelling at your television.
Judy and Jen: BFFs
The best part of Dead To Me, hands down, are its protagonists Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini) and Jen Harding (Christina Applegate.) In addition to being stellar actresses, Cardellini and Applegate have amazing chemistry; their relationship, quite obviously, is a huge focal point of the series. Without a belief that their polar opposite characters could bond and go on a journey of self-discovery together, the main plot wouldn’t sell quite as well, or frankly at all. Cardellini, always a joy to watch in whatever role she plays, perfectly embodies Judy’s optimistic, somewhat erratic spirit while Jen’s practical and cautious persona is Applegate’s true strength. ( And the Academy agrees.) Their complicated relationship isn’t just the root of the show; it perfectly encapsulates the true meaning of friendship. It’s something in which we can all find comfort while spending our days away from loved ones.
A Story For Women, By Women
Dead To Me was created by Liz Feldman, inspired by her own struggles with loss and turning 40. Before conceiving Dead To Me, Feldman wrote on another series that also starred two women: the under-appreciated 2 Broke Girls with Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs. What makes Dead To Me a little more special than other female-led shows is that Judy and Jen represent a relationship between two middle-aged women, all too rare on TV. And the girl power continues behind the scenes as well; the first season had four female directors (every episode bar one is directed by a woman) and six female writers. Judy and Jen both handle grief in drastically different ways throughout the series. The fact that we know the stories and struggles of these two women are being translated by other women is a large part of why the show feels so real and relatable.
Grief Never Looked So Chic
Look, I’m just saying…in a time where we might be looking for ways to spruce up our wardrobe while working from home, there’s no better inspiration than Judy’s unique, bohemian outfits. (Dead To Me‘s costumes are courtesy of Trayce Gigi Field, who also worked with Feldman on 2 Broke Girls.) But if flower dresses and wedge sandals just aren’t your thing, there’s always Jen’s stylish purses and fashionable blazers. It’s a “single parent who still wants to look put together while keeping everything together” look. Might just be any of our wardrobe inspirations right now, considering we’re all stuck at home.
That Supporting Cast!
Dead To Me rounds up a pretty great supporting cast that includes both well-known names and great character actors. I mean, James Marsden! Marsden plays Judy’s ex-fiance Steve and really, his inclusion alone should entice you to watch the series. Ed Asner also has a delightful (and significant) role as a senior with whom Judy works at her retirement home. It’s another representation of a type of relationship we don’t see enough. Suzy Nakamura, an improv comedian you’ve seen on series such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother, and The West Wing, has a recurring role as Jen’s neighbor. She plays off Applegate wonderfully. And Valerie Mahaffey, of Northern Exposure and Desperate Housewives fame, takes her extroverted personality to the next level playing Jen’s overbearing (if well-meaning) mother-in-law.
Dead To Me is returning for a second season and while no release date has been announced yet, we know filming has finished which means it’s only a matter of time before Judy and Jen and their adventures return to our televisions. In the meantime, let these reasons inspire you to check out this fun, engaging, and super binge-worthy show.
Featured Image: Netflix