The new show Dead To Me would be an unlikely show to attract my long-term interest, based on the premise alone. Two women at a grief counselling sessions become friends against all odds — one is acerbic, one is light and carefree. One has a secret, one has family issues. And that’s basically it.
So if you’re reading this, I’ll let you know that I have spoiler info at the bottom that is huge for the series, but comes out in Episode 1, so I don’t feel like I’m really revealing too much. It’s hard to review the episode without talking about both reveals.
First off, the acerbic one is Jen, played by Christina Applegate. Maybe you loved her on Up All Night or Samantha Who? or even Jesse. Or maybe even way back to Married…With Children. Blunt revelation — I didn’t like her in any of them. So it wasn’t like I started watching and was expecting to love her. Except she’s pretty damn good here. Good mix of light-heartedness in a couple of places, but she does edgy without being bitchy pretty well. She’s alone now, a bit of anger issues, because her jogging husband got hit by a car, died, and the car drove off.
Second, Jen meets Judy at a grief counselling session in a park next to the ocean. (WTF? Never mind.) Anyway, Judy says her husband died while they were eating dinner, a heart attack at 44. So there’s some “common life experience” going on here, supposedly. But Jen is dark, Judy is light, and they kind of bond a bit while the others seem flighty and flaky, including the pastor running it. A bit of dark humour.
Now Jen is played by Freaks and Geeks star Linda Cardellini, who also did Brokeback Mountain (waitress Cassie) as well as Velma in Scoobie Doo’s live version, but I don’t really know her work. She’s good, I liked her too.
So the bonding goes along and goes along…late night phone calls, late night drives, watching TV shows together, getting high. It’s all good. Right up until the first secret is revealed — ** spoiler ** Judy’s husband isn’t actually dead. And he’s not her husband, it was a boyfriend. So Jen has a shit-freak, and calls her out for faking everything. But Judy’s pain isn’t with the BF, although it is pain. She miscarried.
Jen and Judy get past it, they’re still going to be friends, and Jen offers to let Judy stay at her guest house. Because, well everybody has a guest house, right? Anyway the move-in part leads to the second giant reveal ** spoiler ** Judy’s got a car in a storage locker with a completely banged up front bumper…i.e., we’re to assume she’s the one who killed Jen’s husband. Dun dun dun. So when Jen said Judy had issues, Judy wasn’t kidding when she said Jen had no idea.
But there just isn’t anything “there” for me. The nice friendship bond between the two of them isn’t going anywhere for me. And I can’t see how there is anything there for the long-term. Maybe it could have been a movie of the week. Or even a serious movie with more drama invested. But I just don’t see a hook to keep me.
I’m even going to predict CANCELLATION. Which is too bad, both actresses do a decent job. I just wish they had a better show to work on.