Back From the Dead

I have found something profoundly good from profound loss, and everyone needs to see it. Dead To Me is a new show on Netflix starring Christina Applegate as a widowed mother of two trying to cope with life after the death of her husband. But this isn’t ten hours of maudlin coping therapy. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Excellent storytelling, acting, and writing makes this a gem that will have you waiting, yearning, and begging for more.

Death Becomes Her

Christina plays Jen Harding, who lost her husband about two months before the story starts. She has a 14-year-old and a 10-year-old Charley and Henry. After weeks of dealing with the well-meaning-yet-intrusive help of others she decides to hit up grief group therapy and is befriended by Judy.

Without giving too much away, it quickly becomes obvious that this meeting is not accidental.

The relationship quickly forms but is not based on truth or honesty. Instead it is based on remorse and guilt. But the great thing about Dead To Me is that just when we’re sure we know where the story is going next, it takes a turn we never saw coming.

Real estate rival is actually a grieving mother-in-law. Grieving son turns drug dealer. New client is really a deceitful murderer manslaughterer.

At A Loss

And while death is an overriding theme literally from start to finish, it is not portrayed as an overdramatic event. As much as Jen would like to shut down and let the death of her husband be the only thing in her life, she must keep her career and family going because, well, life goes on. She also deals not only with the physical loss of her husband, but with the illusion of what she thought her life was.

Meanwhile Judy deals with the loss of someone at her job as well as miscarriages and the loss of being a mother.

While the events that bring everyone together is obviously contrived for the story, none of the events are extraordinary. You sit there and cry with these characters. You laugh with these characters. You judge these characters.

And how you judge them will be informed by your own experiences. Sure, you may have never committed murder manslaughter. but once the circumstances behind the actions are revealed, your judgment may shift.

Drowning Your Sorrows

By the final scene of the final episode we are bonded to Jen and Judy. We have seen the inevitable betrayal come to reckoning and are ready to move on.. AND THEN!!!!

The night setting, guns in pockets, and a once friendly but now ominous pool all loom for a turn of events I never saw coming. But that is the point!

When you watch Dead To Me you will think you know what’s coming. It is all so predictable that you may want to stop bingeing. But don’t! You really don’t know what is ahead. All that coupled with Christina’s heartfelt, dramedic performance, makes this five hours of great television that will have you champing at the bit for the next season.

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

A big, tall glass of red wine. Like the oversize glass you can get at Pier One. The kind that you’re only half joking when you say you won’t fill it all the way.  Christina/Jen loves her wine in this series. It quiets the voices and numbs the mind, and does more for her than a year of grief therapy!


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