Strong friendships are born out of shared experiences. In its first season, Dead to Me took this notion and stretched it to the nth degree.
Despite the fact that Judy (Linda Cardellini) accidentally killed Jen’s (Christina Applegate) husband in a tragic hit-and-run and then purposefully wrangled her way into the grieving Jen’s life, the two women formed a strong bond that seemed to defy their circumstances. But can their friendship survive the tumultuous revelations of the latest season?
The last time we saw the unlikely BFFs, Judy’s ex-fiance Steve (James Marsden) was floating dead in Jen’s pool. It’s this cliff hanger that propels the entirety of season two along its twisted path of subterfuge and haphazard plans to conceal dark secrets. As the women try to protect themselves and the ones they love, they spin a web of lies stickier than the first season, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats wondering if the whole charade will implode in a spectacular fashion.
Season 2 of Dead to Me tests the bonds of female friendship like never before. Jen and Judy must contend with an inquisitive new visitor in town, a detective hellbent on arresting Judy for the hit-and-run accident, and burgeoning new romances all while trying to maintain some semblance of normality. Stellar performances by Applegate and Cardellini carry this black comedy. Applegate’s angry outbursts are almost too convincing, and Cardellini perfectly embodies the quirky, empathetic artist stereotype. The chemistry between the two characters shines on the screen, making their implausible friendship seem like the most natural thing in the world.
Jen’s sons Charlie (Sam McCarthy) and Henry (Luke Roessler) develop stronger stand-alone storylines that only complicate Jen and Judy’s secrets. The portrayal of Jen’s eldest son Charlie is impressive. The usual markers of teen angst and rebellion are present, but the show manages to avoid the annoying, disinterested teenager trope. Instead, they highlight Charlie’s growth and maturity while still creating a relatable teen personality. The interactions between Jen and her sons showcase a style of parenting that should be highlighted on television more – explicitly teaching teenage boys about boundaries and the injustice of labeling girls as ‘crazy’.
This is not a season you can jump straight into without knowing the wild ride that is the first installment. It starts right where the first season left off, with no recaps or heavy-handed exposition. And this season takes the trademark twists and unexpected turns that made the first season a success and turns it up a notch. Dead to Me will have you gasping in shock as much as it has you in stitches.
Designed to be binged, Dead to Me won’t last long on your Netflix to-watch list.
Christina Applegate had to take therapy after the show because it triggered other emotional moments in her life.