A hotheaded widow searching for the hit-and-run driver who mowed down her husband befriends an eccentric optimist who isn’t quite what she seems.
Jen Harding’s husband Ted was killed in a hit-and-run accident, leaving her with two young sons, a nightmare mother-in-law, and a hell of a lot of grief and anger to process. When she meets Judy at a grief support group, the two form a bond over their mutual losses. Except that quirky, optimistic Judy is hiding a few secrets of her own. This 10-episode series (which has been renewed for a second season, release date TBD) dives deep into complicated emotions while satirizing the stupid things other people say and do when you’re going through a trauma.
Christina Applegate as Jen
Christina Applegate won a well-deserved Emmy for her role in this show. Her grief and anger—and dark sense of humor—are palpable throughout the series, whether she’s trying to convince her youngest son that no, his dead dad isn’t visiting him in the form of a bird, fighting her urge to slap her mother-in-law, or blasting heavy metal to work out her rage at the colossal unfairness of the situation.
Linda Cardellini as Judy
Little Lindsey Weir, what have you become?! Linda Cardellini is charmingly earnest as Judy, the only person who seems to understand what Jen is going through. The fact that she has to keep secrets from Jen clearly eats her up inside, and it’s so visible on her face you wonder how no one else notices.
James Marsden as Steve
Usually, I love James Marsden—his character in 27 Dresses was the perfect blend of cocky and amiable—but he plays an outstandingly handsome asshole here, so you may find yourself wanting to punch him right in his pretty face.
Couch-Sharing Capability: High
I haven’t gotten anyone to watch this with me yet, but it would be perfect for binging with either a significant other or your besties. A mystery unfolds, piece by piece, but it’s also a story about grief, forgiveness, anger and the intense chemistry that happens when you find your new best friend.
Plus, it’s funny as hell.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Pour One Out
Jen is a total hothead, and you get the sense that she has some very good reasons for it, right from the beginning. As the series goes on and you realize the extent of her reasons to be angry, you’ll need a drink too. Pour one out for Jen as she pours white wine straight down her gullet, ‘cause damn, the lady earned it.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Excellent
It’s not easy being a woman in 2019, and no matter how much privilege Jen has as a wealthy white woman, there’s no getting around the fact that she has some excellent reasons to be angry. Dead to Me lets her be furious, in all of its raw, hilarious, self-aware glory. “It seemed like his [singer/songwriter] career was taking off—not to ruin it for you, it didn’t—but, you know, I’m the one with the uterus, and I’ve gotta be the grown-up here, and for what?” she rants, her utter defeat showing on her face…and then she immediately gets angry on Judy’s behalf, like all the best sort of friends do. It’s dark and relatable and still manages to be strangely uplifting; Dead to Me is one of my favorite new shows of 2019.