Dead to Me has an interesting central premise, but it’s propped up by great performances and a strong sisterhood by the two female leads.
The more I see the growing toxic minority that believes Netflix is ruining the industry, the more I wonder why; Netflix releases good stories that would have otherwise have been left at the bottom of the barrel for another rainy day. Dead to Me, created by Liz Fieldman, is an easy-to-binge narrative with two engaging, likable female leads surrounded by a dark story, seasoned with a dose of comedy. Season 1 is fun, never gets boring, and is full of surprises.
It follows Jen (Christina Applegate), who recently lost her husband in a hit and run; it’s useful to know that Jen loves to swear, she’s one of those people. She also has the same vibe you’d expect from Chelsea Handler, that DGAF attitude that is easy to drink without being offended. In fact, you could argue she looks like her, kind of. Of course, with her husband dead in sad, violent circumstances, she’s not the type to want baked goods and “sorry for your loss” statements from a neighbor, nor does she want to drink the copious advice at the grieving support groups. Jen needs a sister from another mister.
That sister is Judy (Linda Cardellini), who she meets at the support group. Dead to Me Season 1 offers a Netflix series pairing two women who are opposites in everything, yet their contrasting personalities somehow blend, making each 30-minute episode a light breeze. The pair are the comedy, and both actresses work well together to convince they have become best friends rather quickly.
Of course, Dead to Me is barely about sisterhood. Under the hood, there are a lot of secrets to be explored. Nothing is what it seems when it comes to Judy, and you find out reveals in nearly every chapter the dark past that shrouds Jen’s new best friend. What the Netflix series does not do is make Judy feel like a villain, more than they portray her as a person trapped in a series of events. There’s still a sinister feeling in the story, which you will undoubtedly pick up in specific scenes, but although Dead to Me sells itself as somewhat dark, it is also slightly lighter than the premise suggests.
The character development gives that Glow memory, mixed with a tinge of Someone Great that recently surfaced on the Netflix platform. The argument is often raised on the dreaded Film Twitter in whether or not stories should be remade with our female counterparts, or if new stories should be created. Dead to Me continues the notion that new narratives are more opportunistic and enjoyable. I’m not sure if this Netflix series is a copycat of some other story somewhere, but its vibe, its energy feels new. Some chapters prompt themes of female empowerment, and challenging men who have overstepped the line. Dead to Me graces itself in that sisterhood mantra, even if the story heads towards more of a downfall to their friendship than longevity.
Dead to Me also takes on the difficult challenge of grieving someone you have lost. Most episodes take this theme on in its comedic way. Christina Applegate is consistent in the moments that convincingly serve an outlet for grief; those outbursts of tears are hard not to take in.
One of the noticeable negatives of Dead to Me is that a couple of episodes are filler chapters to pad out the 10-episode first season, but those chapters are still fun. I believe the Netflix series will resonate with many, with its dark undertones, and its light comedy about a newly-formed friendship with a catastrophic secret between them.
We also recapped every episode of Dead to Me. You can read the recap of the first episode by clicking these words.