Suddenly BFFs (Series Review: “Dead to Me”)

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A darkly comic story about two women whose intense friendship intersects around the sudden death of one woman’s husband, and the guilty conscience which sets a bizarre series of events in motion. It’s a love story, actually.

SnapShot Plot

Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini rule in the instantly addictive, sharply drawn series, Dead to Me which challenges the mathematical equation of Comedy as the sum of Tragedy + Time. In this case, it’s a mere three months. That’s how long it’s been since the hit-and-run death of Applegate’s cynical L.A. realtor Jen’s husband, Ted. A reluctant attendee at a hippy dippy grief support group, Jen encounters the sweet, doe-faced Judy (Cardellini) who’s there to also presumably mourn the passing of her husband, Steve. Problem: somebody’s not being completely honest here. But by the time the first in a series of lies is revealed, it’s too late to turn back. Jen and Judy have skipped GO and gone direct to the sisterhood of the traveling wine glasses, discovering their best friends in each other while supporting each other’s brand of Crazy.

Jen is not accepting her widowhood gracefully. She has become a comic, one-woman, rage-fueled agent of vengeance, whose mission it is to find the driver of the car that killed her husband. And her fury is spilling out onto her family and her career. Judy is more of a mystery, a gentle soul whose past threatens to destroy the budding friendship that’s the closest thing she has to family. There’s plenty of real pathos here, but the writing is so dead-on and these performances so strong that around every touching moment there’s a sneaky and smirky smile that is sure to escape. You just watch . . .

 

 

Parting Shot

Created by veteran comedy writer/actor/producer Liz Feldman, the secret sauce of Dead to Me is the blend of inspired writing and genius casting. Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are absolute revelations in the roles of Jen and Judy, whose ‘opposites attract’ instant chemistry takes off at a clip, with a post-Feminist sarcasm that is enticing and refreshing in its honesty. James Marsden (as Steve) is also at the top of his game here. He’s made an entire career of perfecting that ‘too-handsome-to trust’ character who eventually reveals himself as a complete dolt or (in this case) as a seductive guy who’s used to getting his way, making him both intoxicating and dangerous.

Dead to Me (already renewed for a second season) is a rare find, a clever reversal of the standard ‘whodunit’ with enough tension and suspense to keep its audience over 10 episodes, anchored in the real emotional waters which form the glue of the central relationship. It’s a love story. . . with thorns.

Dead to Me is presently streaming on Netflix.

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YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwYBw1raC2o

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