Netflix Review – Dead to Me: Life’s Tough Then You Keep Living (Seasons 1-2)

Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate star in this dark comedy.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

Jen Harding (Christina Applegate) is a realtor whose husband was recently killed by a hit-and-run. At a grief support group run by Pastor Wayne (Keong Sim), she meets Judy (Linda Cardellini), an artist and retirement home worker who claims she recently lost her fiance, Steve (James Marsden). The two soon strike up a friendship which somehow survives the revelation that Steve is alive and Judy even moves in with Jen and her two kids Charlie and Henry (Sam McCarthy and Luke Roessler). However, Jen is unaware that Judy is actually the one who killed her husband. As time goes by, the two keep getting caught up in each others’ problems, which just seem to get bigger and bigger.

DeadToMe - 1Cast
They look stressed.

END SUMMARY

I couldn’t get through the first episode of this show when the first season debuted. Sometimes you just aren’t in the mood for something and I wasn’t interested in a show that starts off with two characters bonding over losing loved ones and watching The Facts of Life. However, I gave it another try and I will admit that the show started to win me over. It’s pretty sad at the beginning, as most shows that deal with this kind of subject matter would be, but it starts to develop a kind of dark humor that manages to play out pretty well. It’s a kind of “odd couple” except that everything tends to revolve more around actual tragedies rather than sitcom scenarios.

DeadToMe - 2Grief
Ah, the classic “grief counseling” platonic meet cute.

Honestly, the show mostly works because the leads are just so strong together. Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate really play up each other’s best traits whenever they’re on-screen together… which is a lot. Jen has anger issues and sarcasm, while Judy is mostly positive and able to play the straight man with a fairly compassionate bent. However, Judy also is the cause of most calamities, often because she is just a little bit crazy, as you would expect from someone who lies about her fiance dying in order to get into a grief counseling group. The supporting cast is also pretty strong, mostly James Marsden who plays both the dickish Steve and also Steve’s more amiable brother Ben. 

DeadToMe - 3Natalie
3 people who don’t watch the show have told me they knew Natalie Morales is in season 2.

Overall, if you like a good “unlikely pair” comedy and are willing to sit through a lot of very legitimately stressful moments to get to the laughs, then you’ll like this. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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