Comedy / TV Series
Is It Worth Watching? Yes! Yes! Yes!
This is the program I have been waiting for. Loud, funny, clever, bold, feminist and unapologetic. Dead To Me is the kind of program that should be watched by everyone: women and men. And here are five reasons why:
Dead to Me is a story of the most unlikely friendship. Jen (Christina Applegate) is a strong, independent woman with anger issues which, after the death of her husband in a hit-and-run, have turned into rage issues. Judy (Linda Cardellini), on the other hand, is kind, soft-spoken and codependent. They couldn’t be more different if they tried. But there are two big similarities in their situations: both have suffered a loss and they both are hiding a secret. By the end of episode one you know that their friendship is doomed from the start.
The chemistry between Applegate and Cardellini is amazing. Every scene they share is charged with energy and humour. There wasn’t a single episode that didn’t make me laugh. Even scenes where Jen is grieving her husband are underscored with mirth. Jen’s sons, Charlie and Henry, bring a touch of lightness to this, otherwise, dark comedy. Henry joins a church choir where they dance to I Believe in Miracles. What? you scream, aghast. Relax! Instead of “you sexy thing”, they sing, “you sacred thing.” That’s right.
James Marsden has again proven that he is so much better suited to comedy. (Although, I did really fancy him as Cyclops in X-Men.) He plays a smarmy attorney who is out to screw everyone. He’s the perfect antidote to Cardellini’s over-optimistic Judy. Max Jenkins is fantastic as the gay best friend, Valerie Mahaffey as the snarky mother-in-law and Brandon Scott as the handsome boyfriend/detective. No character in this program is under-utilised. Every one of them, including Karen the neighbour, has an important part to play. This leanness, no extraneous scene/actor/dialogue is the biggest strength of Dead to Me.
Let me warn you: this is no Sex and the City. There are no boyfriends and commitment problems. No Manolo Blahniks. Despite the humour, Dead to Me addresses serious issues, like breast cancer, menopause, inability to have children, emotional abuse of women, no means no, parenting. And there is a lot of swearing. A lot. My favourite bit is when Jen calls a client “vacuous bitch.’
While Jen is hell bent on finding the driver who killed her husband to the point that she befriends strangers to see the car they have in their garage, Judy just wants to be a supportive friend. With each episode their life unravels a bit — Jen’s oldest son leaves home to live with his grandmother; Judy finds out she can’t be pregnant again — and they come to rely on each other more, while at the same time their respective secrets threaten to emerge. All ending in a climax that you wouldn’t see coming. Bring on Season 2!