A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Odd mishmash of genres carries variety of messages -- the best found in Judy and Jen's grief group, where the leader is presented as a bit of a ridiculous figure but also espouses powerful messages like "everyone deserves forgiveness." Warm friendship between the show's leads is relatively rare example of supportive female friendship on-screen, even if friendship is fraught with suspense and mystery.
Positive Role Models
Jen is a bit angry and wound up; we see her rage in her expletive-sprinkled language and her verbal attacks on people around her. Yet with time, she learns to be kinder to the people in her life. Judy is a bit of a mess emotionally, but she's also extremely supportive of Jen, despite keeping a devastating secret from her.
Violence & Scariness
Flashbacks to a fatal car accident feature squealing brakes, blood on a windshield, terrified screams. The accident is frequently referred to and described.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters are interested in romance; expect flirting, dating, kissing, and then camera cuts away and returns to show men and women in bed after sex. Infidelity plays a role in the plot.
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Language and cursing includes "f--ked," "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "a--hole," "f--ker," "bitch," and some more esoteric slang: "twat-waffle."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters frequently drink wine and cocktails at gatherings and dinners; they sometimes overdo it and act sloppy and silly. In an extended scene, characters smoke a joint together; one reminds the other "It's legal!" (they live in California) and says "Smoking is the greatest thing that slowly kills you" and that pot "isn't a drug, it's a plant."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dead to Me is a dark comedy about a widowed woman who makes a mysterious new friend in a support group. This unusual show combines both a suspenseful mystery and a narrative about a woman becoming a stronger and more complete person after a terrible blow through a supportive (if fraught) friendship and therapy. Content is also moderately mature, with characters drinking to excess and smoking pot together, flirting and kissing with references to sex, and language including many varieties of "f--k," along with "a--hole," "bitch," "s--t," and iffy language like "t-ts" and "d--k." Much of the show's plot revolves around a violent death; we frequently see flashbacks to the accident that caused the death, with a car with squealing brakes, a thud, blood on a windshield.
Is It Any Good?
Singular and utterly captivating, this series will have viewers addicted both to the chemistry between leads Applegate and Cardellini and to the tingly suspense under the surface. Because Judy has a secret, and it's one that Jen comes ever closer to discovering even as the two bond over their shared misery. Applegate and Cardellini are so good together that it's almost heartbreaking to watch them become better friends, knowing what the audience learns at the beginning of the first episode. Both insomniacs, they get to know each other at first over late-night phone calls, then marathon, wine-powered viewing parties of The Facts of Life (Judy thinks Jen's a Blair, even though Jen thinks of herself as a Jo). And then Jen impulsively extends Judy an invitation to come live with her and her kids. By the time Jen starts putting together the puzzle pieces of Judy's fractured life, she's already in so deep that it's hard to just walk away.
But there's more to Dead to Me than just a twisty mystery -- it's also a look at a woman flattened by a very particular kind of grief, slowly learning to navigate her life without her husband. Her grief at first takes the form of withering rants directed against those around her and rage sessions in her car listening to German black metal. But with steely conviction and compulsive honesty, she puts herself back together, despite the ticking timebomb of her relationship with Judy. It's an odd mix of genres and plotlines to be sure. And it's so well-done and surprising that you'd better clear your schedule for it.
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