A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DEAD TO ME stars Christina Applegate as Jen, a recently widowed woman whose overwhelming grief leads her to a support group where she meets Judy (Linda Cardellini), who's going through her own grief process. When the two spark a friendship, Jen quickly learns that there's more to Judy than meets the eye -- but just how much more will take longer to unravel.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way women are portrayed on television and why main female characters tend to be such a rarity. Are women on TV more often shown working together or working against each other? What about on Dead to Me? How do TV stereotypes match up to the behavior of the women you know in real life?
Families can also talk about what type of show this is. Is it a crime drama? A fantasy? A family drama? Can you think of other TV shows and movies that mix genres to create a unique style? How does the show's humor impact the effect of the violence and suspense?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love comedy
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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