Dead to Me
The things we do for our friends... and to them.
Streaming on Netflix | 2019 | TV-MA | 1 Season
reviewed by Grace
Genre: Dark comedy, psychological... not-thriller?, murder mystery
Why We Watched: The trailer for this one really got me. Dead to Me looked great, and then just as I started watching, the internet blew up about it! (Good affirmation that I was onto something... not that I really needed any affirmation. One episode in and I was hooked!)
You Might Also Like: There are four superb actors at the center of this show, and I predict you’ll want more of each of them after watching Dead to Me. For more Christina Applegate, (re)watch Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Bad Moms on Amazon Prime. For more Linda Cardellini, check out Bloodline on Netflix. For more James Marsden, try West World on HBO and 27 Dresses on Starz (he's got range, baby!). For more Brandon Scott, dive into Grey’s Anatomy seasons 5 and 6 on Netflix.
Let me tell you, it is difficult to write this review without giving away spoilers. By the end of the first episode, you learn a B I G secret. Usually I don’t get too worked up about sharing info with you that you’ll find out in the first episode, but in this case? Well, I want you to have the experience of watching it all unfold as it's meant to. So, let me tell you what I can: Jen (Applegate) is mourning the death of her husband Ted, who was killed in a (yet unsolved) hit-and-run a few months prior. At her grief support group—which Jen The Skeptic attends skeptically and, ironically, religiously—she meets Judy (Cardellini). They're complete opposites, yet they become fast friends, bonding over their losses: Judy, her fiancé, and Jen, her Ted. They talk on the phone or over wine and cookies each night when neither of them can sleep. Soon Judy is moving into Jen's guest house and hanging out with her kids. It's untraditional, but the arrangement seems perfect. They're happy together, these two new friends, and it seems like life might start to get a little better again for Jen and Judy.
Except Judy has a few secrets, and soon we start to learn them. She's quirky and loving and likable, though, so when she does erratic or suspicious or unwise things, we give her the benefit of the doubt—and so does Jen. Maybe it's because she seems like she needs protecting, with her wide eyes and her fragile self-discipline.
But Judy's ex Steve (Marsden), usually so full of crap, has a way of putting it bluntly: “Judy, what kind of friendship is based on lies? And manslaughter?" “A layered one?” Judy replies. Is Judy actually crazy, as she's often accused of? Or is she simply acting as a normal-ish person would under crazy circumstances? The truth, it turns out, is neither and both. The truth is also that Judy isn't the only one with something to hide. Who is at fault in this big, messy situation? Is everyone?
Dead to Me makes you decide. That's probably why it has a faithful following, already. The show steadily builds intrigue and low-key suspense while delivering just the right amount of well-timed humor. It's never heavy-handed. When the characters serve up a line loaded with dramatic irony, the camera backs off, resisting lingering close-ups in favor of subtle facial expressions or small movements in the background. This keeps a dark show light and fresh, and it gives the actors a chance to shine. Applegate and Cardellini have perfect chemistry, and that's a good thing since... drum roll please.... the show just got renewed for a second season. I loved season one, and I can't wait for more. Thanks, Netflix!
Happy Streaming! Grace