The grieving process is never easy. Imagine if the person who’s responsible for the death of your loved one stalks you, befriends you, and integrates themselves into your life in an attempt to help you heal from your lost, only to really help ease their guilt. Without too many spoilers, that’s the premise of Netflix’s latest comedy Dead to Me.
Debuting May 3rd on Netflix, Dead to Me proved to be a great weekend binge due to its addictive leading ladies Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini. I’m the first to admit, the twist at the end of pilot that drives the plot for the remainder of the series was predictable, but the performances by Applegate and Cardellini kept me around, and I was not disappointed.
Applegate stuns in so many ways! In what easily could be touted as a career-defining performance as Jen, a widow recovering from her husbands tragic hit-and-run accident and is left to pick up the pieces of her life, Jen chooses a support group to help her cope with her lost, and her bouts of anger. This is where she meets Cardellini’s Judy, who at first just seems like she wants to help Jen get through her rough time, simply by offering her a hug and someone who’s willing to listen. As the pilot continues, Judy isn’t what she seems. That’s as far as I’m going to go about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it, so the rest of this post is going to be gushing about how amazing Applegate and Cardellini are in these roles.
Both actresses complement and elevate each other’s opposite characters in performances that captivate throughout the first season, but never in a way that seems forced, unrealistic, or overshadowing one another. The duos chemistry at times manipulates the audiences into thinking this is just a show about girlfriends drinking wine, gossiping in their upscale Laguna Beach backyards and neighbors in their cul-de-sac – a younger version of Grace and Frankie, or maybe an older version of Jo and Blair from The Facts of Life (watch the show and you’ll get the reference!) – until you realize that Judy is on the spectrum of sociopath that’s unfathomable and you remember the real reason Judy decided to spark up a friendship with Jen.
Applegate’s ability to showcase subtle humor, rage, and pain – sometimes in the same scene – during her grieving process is spot on and relatable for anyone who’s ever experienced a death in their life. As the viewer, you’re drawn in and invested in Jen’s emotions, her trauma, her struggle to balance and maintain her career and motherhood, and just waiting for the moment when all the dots are connected to what’s going on around her.
By the time episode 10 quickly approached, I didn’t want Dead to Me to come to a conclusion, knowing that the eventual season 2 won’t come around for about a year, and it’ll be a blimp in my TV memory thanks to Netflix’s slow turnaround time between seasons. In the meantime, I’ll exclaim my love for this show because of the comedic and emotional weight Applegate and Cardellini put on display in these Emmy-worthy performances.
All 10 episodes of Dead to Me are streaming on Netflix