Dead to me
It’s weird how people who are bad for each other can be drawn to each other, but there’s no doubt it makes for a compelling story. We see it in Hulu’s Killing Eve, Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, Buffy Summers and any of her suitors. But Netflix’s new Dead To Me explores that in a much more platonic context, and what happens when a friendship starts with guilt, grief, and well, maybe manslaughter. A Buzzfeed article noted that “Grace and Frankie + Big Littles Lies = Dead to Me” and honestly? I have to agree.
The Netflix original centers around Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini) who meet in a grief support group after Jen’s husband died in a hit and run, and Judy lost her fiance. This show is not a feel good show on how women turn to each other for support and I’ll admit I did not initially expect it to be as layered as it was, but Jen’s obsession with finding her husband's killer puts them both in some very non-sitcom situations. Some of these situations can feel claustrophobic, true to the emotions of the characters, but often don’t have a guiding reason, but rather many small ones on top of each other. It’s a dark comedy (Or Traumedy, as creator Liz Felder calls it) that has comedy that’s equally as compelling as the drama. The sharp banter and funny musings between the two friends are matched with fantastic reveals and engaging flashbacks. My main critique is that the twist(s) happened a bit earlier than I was expecting, and definitely affected the pacing of the rest of the show.
While the writing is realistic and consistent, the lines would have fallen flat without the master execution that these actresses bring to the table. Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate absolutely carry Dead To Me, portraying complicated, unhappy women dealing with grief. Jen’s main outlet is anger, losing it seemingly at random, and Judy is a flighty pushover, with something to hide. Like Jen says, “Grief does weird shit to people”, and these two brands of weird are an explosive combination.
I would give Dead To Me 6/10, it’s very entertaining, but oddly paced, and not the most satisfying ending. If you like female - lead drama where the aftermath of the crime is much worse than the crime itself, Dead To Me is for you.
By Merlin Garcia ( IG@merlsanity, Twitter @scriptedmerlin)