Netflix’s latest original series “Dead to Me,” sprinkles dark comedy and suspense with a compelling mystery that continuously builds — and does so exceedingly well. What makes the show excel isn’t just the storyline or its actors, but the friendship and connection that forms between two polar opposites linked by one similarity: grief.
The show follows Jen Harding (Christina Applegate) and Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini), who meet at a grief support group after Harding’s husband was killed in a hit-and-run and Hale’s husband had passed away from a heart attack.
Harding, showcases intense anger issues and it becomes more prominent with her husbands unsolved murder. Hale on the other hand, is a carefree spirit who tries to stay optimistic about everything, but harbors a shocking truth.
As each episode unfolds, the show does a masterful job of promoting cliffhangers, making it a highly binge-worthy series. Just when one plot point gets resolved, the show churns out more twists and turns. Sure, there were parts that were predictable, but with the story getting crazier and crazier as it progresses, it’s justifiable.
What seems like a normal friendship at first, turns into a struggle as one lie after another begins to unravel. Not everything is as it seems, and we progressively learn about the true events that ultimately led both Harding and Hale to the position they’re in as we see them.
Both being television veterans, Applegate and Cardellini turn in deep, wonderful performances, showcasing incredible versatility. One minute they’re bawling their eyes out, the next, they’re sitting in Harding’s backyard citing philosophical proverbs to one another. The writing is top notch, and it doesn’t go unnoticed when you have two amazing actresses with immense chemistry.
Applegate herself admitted that she started going to therapy after filming season one due to the emotional toll the role demanded of her. To say she was dedicated to her craft is an understatement.
Harding’s depressing, strained personality mixed with Hale’s upbeat, vibrant persona balance each other out well, and “Dead to Me” works best when they’re on-screen together.
James Marsden, who plays Hale’s ex-fiance, Steve Wood, also gives a memorable performance with what limited screen time he had.
The show isn’t full on mystery and suspense. There are some moments of well-injected humor, such as Harding rocking out to heavy metal in her car as a source of meditation to relieve her crippling anger issues, to her deadpan delivery when speaking with others.
“Dead to Me” also does an incredible job of examining the bond of friendship and how it can be formed in the most unpredictable way. Harding puts up a strong front to everyone around her that she’s coping with her husband’s death just fine, but in moments of solitariness, you can see the true grief she’s going through and the impact it has on her of losing someone so close.
Hale is also dealing with issues of her own, but forming a friendship with Harding gave both women someone to confide in and to let out how they’re really feeling.
With an amazing storyline, twists coming in every direction and an exceptionally respected cast, “Dead to Me” is a Netflix series that deserves to be watched. With the surprise events taking place in the final episode of season one, season two will more than likely be packed with even more suspense and mystery — and I can’t wait.
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