Liz Feldman (writer of 2 Broke Girls) has created a new series on Netflix, Dead to Me, which focuses on the friendship between Jen and Judy. A recently widowed real estate agent, Jen (Christina Applegate), has anger management issues. Judy, played by Linda Cardellini, is a quirky, sensitive artist who meets Jen in a grief counseling group.
The setting is so beautiful it is surreal as Jen arrives at the Friends of Heaven group meeting, held outdoors at Laguna Beach. Jen is dressed in black, sobbing as she parks her car while Judy Garland sings a perky “Get Happy” in the background. The two women meet and bond through late-night phone calls and shared bottles of wine. This sets the tone for the series, with comedy and tragedy surrounding their friendship. There is also a note of whodunit added to the mix, as Jen seeks to find the hit and run driver who left her husband dead on the side of the road.
The friendship between the two women is the key to the allure of the program. Applegate and Cardellini play off one another admirably, creating a vibrant relationship between the two characters. They are great with each other, acerbic and funny and unreservedly supportive. Jen and Judy are opposites, with the humor of Lucy and Ethel, and the angst of Thelma and Louise. They appear to be the perfect friends.
It is clear from the beginning that Judy has secrets. As their friendship grows, more secrets, both Judy’s and Jen’s, continue to be revealed. As more is discovered, the audience is put in the position of waiting for the other shoe to drop – is this friendship too good to be true? Is it as doomed as it appears to be?
An excellent cast provides background and support for the series. James Marsden as Steve and Max Jenkins as Christopher play key roles in Jen and Judy’s lives. Valerie Mahaffey is an attention-seeking mother-in-law, Marcus Brown is a potential new love interest. Ed Asner is a delightful surprise as a good friend of Judy in the senior living community where she works.
This first season of Dead to Me finishes with a cliffhanger, lending hope that there will be more seasons in the future.