Then, very quickly, Dead to Me reveals itself to be less odd-couple dramedy than a lightly comic take on a thriller like The Girl on the Train. | Cookie Settings, Though largely shaped around its clockwork rhythm and predetermined twists, the debut season of, Judy was beset by her own female troubles — five miscarriages, a diagnosis of infertility and, finally, a broken engagement to the emotionally abusive Steve (James Marsden). There are mysteries, cliffhangers, plot twists and even a very literal version of Chekhov’s Gun. That’s the question Netflix’s dark comedy Dead To Me has been asking since season 1, and … Dead to Me‘s later episodes try to lean on character drama whenever possible, and Applegate and (especially) Cardellini get some strong moments as various truths come to light. In This Article: But there's never any real suspense about whether their strangely forgiving friendship will endure — not even when Jen and Judy get drunk and start calling each other "their person." At the end of season one, Jen had "returned the favor" by killing Steve, her friend's (ex-)partner. It's nowhere near as interesting watching the calculating Jen subtly manipulate the grateful-to-be-forgiven Judy. Judy gets a new love interest (played by an always welcome presence), Jen gets a more contrived one based solely on the writers' potential to exacerbate her guilt, and the two keep fumbling in their attempts to misdirect the police investigation into Steve's disappearance. But Jen is fudging the truth about the final moments of Steve's life, and the actual circumstances might drive Judy away. Creator-showrunner: Liz Feldman All this angst was the backdrop for the Molotov cocktail that was Jen's grief-soaked rage — a still relatively rare depiction of female complexity. Created by Liz Feldman, the show quickly and smartly filled in all the unhappy details in Jen's probably doomed marriage: her husband's infidelity, their many fights and, most compellingly, the fallout from her double mastectomy (inspired by Applegate's own history with breast cancer and the procedure). They bond during sleepless nights on the phone watching TV and discussing John F Kennedy Jr’s hotness. Whenever Steve mentions Judy, you can practically see the writer’s hand coming down to stop him saying any more until a second series is commissioned. Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate in 'Dead to Me.' When Netflix's Dead to Me debuted last spring, the series seemed to hinge, like so many murder mysteries before it, on a single-season premise. The busy machinations — and the relative dearth of character development — suggest Feldman and her team vastly misunderstood what made their first season so compelling. Dead to Me's second season is meant to be a mirror image of its first. Review by Brian Lowry, CNN. Dead to Me began as a showcase for Applegate, Cardellini and Marsden — three perpetually underappreciated actors eager to show off their versatility, and the actresses turn in impressive performances once again. Yes, yawn, you basically saw all of this last year. Sitemap | Sign up for our newsletter. And even though James Marsden (as a sketchy guy tied to both women) throws himself into his shallow and lightly nefarious pretty-boy role with aplomb, the plot’s just not as interesting as getting to spend time with Jen and Judy. As well as the gay zinger-delivery system, there is the sarky teen son, Judy cleansing the guest house (which used to be Jen’s husband’s music studio) with burning sage, the fundamentally good-guy ex (the underused and ever-excellent James Marsden, still awaiting the role that will make him a star) and the parcelling out of background information and plot drivers with little regard for realism. © 2020 The Hollywood Reporter It’s yet another of Peak TV’s many quicksand dramas, where the harder the characters struggle to get out of a bad situation they’ve put themselves in, the deeper they sink in. Yes, yawn, you basically saw all of this last year. Season one boasted some frisson in the role reversal between the two friends — it was woo-woo, emotionally open Judy who was deceiving cynical, hard-bitten Jen. Actually, two Dark Secrets. Dead To Me season 2. We want to hear from you! Jen, though, feels like she’s trying to exist in two different shows simultaneously, even though Applegate is good in each. It's nowhere near as interesting watching the calculating Jen subtly manipulate the grateful-to-be-forgiven Judy. Without their bond, there's no redemption, and thus no show. Judy is a flaky sweetheart who lives in the retirement home where she teaches art classes; her boyfriend Steve recently died from a heart attack. Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini. One comes out halfway through the opening episode, when Jen discovers Steve is still alive; the couple broke up after Judy’s fifth miscarriage. And while Cardellini’s better known for grim dramatic work on shows like ER and Bloodline, anyone who discovered her on Freaks and Geeks knows just how funny and weird she can get. 6:15 AM PDT 5/6/2020 TWITTER Netflix itself has made a bunch, including Bloodline and Ozark. by Season one boasted some frisson in the role reversal between the two friends — it was woo-woo, emotionally open Judy who was deceiving cynical, hard-bitten Jen. That lack of urgency is, unfortunately, a mainstay of the sophomore season, which also lacks its predecessor's brutal intensity. All rights reserved. It’s never entirely fair to judge a TV show based on the series you wish it were, rather than the one it actually is. Without their bond, there's no redemption, and thus no show. Which, again, isn’t entirely fair. Dead to Me is anchored by two fine female performances. All signs pointed — correctly — toward the inevitable reveal that boho drifter Judy (Cardellini) befriended recent widow Jen (Applegate) via their grief support group because Judy killed Jen's husband in a hit-and-run and felt desperately guilty about it. Cast: Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini, James Marsden, Max Jenkins, Sam McCarthy, Luke Roessler But the season concludes with a cliffhanger that left me less interested in where things go next, and wishing we could go back to the grief retreat for some more laughs and tears. Want more Rolling Stone? They seem to have nothing in common except their pain, but that’s enough to get them through marathon late-night phone calls where they watch The Facts of Life together, or intense neighborhood drives where Jen looks for the vintage Mustang that killed Ted. When she reluctantly attends a grief support group, she meets generous-hearted Judy (Linda Cardellini, who can do this sort of thing in her sleep), who explains that she is trying to come to terms with the loss of her fiance, Steve, a few months before. You can only twist the knife so many times before even a wound grows numb. But Judy is harbouring a Dark Secret in exactly the Wisteria Lane tradition. 's second season is framed around how Judy might react when she learns the true nature of her ex-boyfriend's death. You don’t want to be the one to argue, for instance, that Ballers would be much better if the Rock fought zombie Vikings every week. Netflix’s deathly dull dark comedy will make you pine for the soapy, snarky thrills of Wisteria Lane, Last modified on Fri 3 May 2019 09.25 EDT. She tells Judy that the murder was in self-defense, that he had tried to strangle her before she shot him. Its serious, grief-stricken side is a pale imitation of dramas gone before – most recently, Facebook’s astonishing Sorry for Your Loss starring Elizabeth Olsen – and its lighter side consists of … not very much. Though largely shaped around its clockwork rhythm and predetermined twists, the debut season of Dead to Me was an addictive watch for its proudly raw edges. EMAIL ME. There, alas, the similarities end. But there's never any real suspense about whether their strangely forgiving friendship will endure — not even when Jen and Judy get drunk and start calling each other "their person." Applegate’s long been a comic Swiss Army knife. That one puts the season’s plot almost entirely on hold and just focuses on who these two characters are and what makes them tick. Inkoo Kang © Copyright 2020 Rolling Stone, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. Starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, the comedy-thriller admittedly wasn't a traditional murder mystery. Other than the Orange County real-estate porn and Judy's endless parade of flowy designer dresses (that the character couldn't afford), the performances are the only real reason to tune in to this unnecessary sequel of a season. Updated 3:19 PM ET, Wed May 6, 2020 . Even though the episodes are roughly a half-hour each, for instance, Dead to Me suffers from the usual serialized Netflix problem of not having enough story to fill 10 of them.