So, I did it again. After promising myself I’d savour the new slew of 10 episodes, I binged the entirety of season two of ‘Dead to Me’ in just four days. Oops?
Over the course of the comedy-drama’s second season, there were more twists than you could shake a stick at, a surprising number of poignant moments, and a running suspense that raised my anxiety levels more than I’d care to admit. As the storyline raced onward towards its great crescendo, I was left wanting more and more each time the credits roll around. By the time I finished season 2, though, watching the grand finale of the storyline, I only had one mere thought: “What the fuck?”
*Note: There’s spoilers ahead for season 2 of ‘Dead to Me’*
But let me back up a minute. Let me just preface this by saying I loved ‘Dead to Me’ season 2. Right from the very second it picks up from where we left Jen, standing over Steve’s dead body, having just murdered him in a cold rage, all the way up to the rolling of the credits. Despite Judy helping her stuff her ex-fiance’s dead body in a freezer, Jen still hasn’t forgiven her former BFF for her lies – and the fact that she killed Jen’s ex-husband in a deadly hit-and-run. Whoooo boy, and I thought I had issues.
As the episodes roll on, though, of course Jen forgives Judy, and we’re back in the swing of their usual antics in no time. Nothing like a bit of murder to get you to bond, right? Their relationship is undoubtedly the highlight of the season. They have chemistry that just explodes off the screen, leading you to believe that they actually have been through all of this emotional trauma and are truly BFFs in real life. Despite the wild drama contained in the show’s ever-twisting storyline, Christina Applegate’s and Linda Cardellini’s grounded performances help to keep the show in some realm of reality.
Every single episode, without a doubt, I found myself laughing out loud – usually at Jen’s brazen approach to pretty much everyone around her. Whether she’s telling her son that “her vagina is gonna need work after pushing that enormous head out”, or her disbelief that an Instagram influencer doesn’t know what a check is, had me cracking up.
There’s a hefty layer of emotion weaved into the show, too. Dealing with heavy topics such as grief, loss, betrayal – and the two costars portray it perfectly. Judy hitting herself, yelling at Jen to “just stop it!”, at a loss of what to do to ease her mental trauma was… heartbreaking, and at times difficult to even watch. It’s truly a testament to her skills as an actress – and this show deserves all the awards. That’s the beauty of this show, you can go from laughing to crying in the blink of an eye, and the zingy script and perfect performances elevate it to something amazing.
With that said, I found the ending to be highly mediocre. Lacklustre. A twist for the sake of a twist. Firstly, Detective Perez letting Jen go for literal murder because they bonded over the loss of their mothers was… Odd. Sure, this season explored more of Perez’s humanity – but Jen literally killed another human being in a blind rage! I’m pleased Jen got off, of course, I need more of her on my screen in the future, but the way it was handled was definitely on the unbelievable side.
Look, I get that this show is a melodrama that’s got one foot in the surreal and the other tentatively touching on reality via the casts’ unbelievable performances. I do get that. But things only get more… off kilter.
At the very end of the season, Jen and Judy are sat revelling at the stop sign Jen worked tirelessly to put into place. A neat little tie in to the side-story that was featured earlier in the season. As they pull away, however, they’re hit by Steve’s identical – sorry, semi-identical twin brother, Ben. Drunk driving, presumably after receiving the news that his brother’s corpse has been found, he zooms off, leaving Judy crying over Jen – who, we hope, is still alive. And then… the show ends.
First of all: the identical twin thing. Huh. From researching the show after it finished, the show-runner reveals that she invented this character out of the joy the actor had working on the show. Yikes. When writers prioritise anything other than story, things tend to go downward, fast. To ‘Dead to Me’s credit, the twin-thing works with the show’s dramatic tone, so we’ll let that one slide.
The cliffhanger of Jen fighting for her life after being struck by Ben? Not so much. I do get that it’s poetic. On a show about death, hit-and-runs, and seemingly the same five people involved in killing spouses over and over, it does make sense, in a way. For me, though, it just came completely left-field, and seemed as though it was more for shock factor than for story-telling purposes.
Regardless of the show’s odd ending choice, I still had an absolute blast. I could watch Jen and Judy all day, every day, whether it’s Jen yelling at a store clerk for judging her wine consumption, or Judy’s plea to a cop that she’s a good person – and that she has to go and pick up litter in case a seal chokes.
The witty dialogue and high-calibre levels of acting are worthy of all the Emmy awards. The plot itself? I personally felt as though it ran out of steam, right at the very last hurdle.
Here’s hoping for a season three renewal! I’m sure Netflix will pick it up – it’s had some of the highest viewing figures the streaming platform has ever seen. Besides, we need to see more of the relationship between Judy and Michelle (yes girls!), see how Judy’s relationship with her mother plays out – and, of course – what happens to Jen…
What did you think of the show? Did you love it as much as I did? Did you like the ending, or think it could’ve been done differently? Let me know in the comments below!
While we wait for renewal, check out some of my other thoughts on television shows! A fan of ‘Doctor Who’? See why I think the Matt Smith is the best Doctor. Or, see what I thought about the ending to ‘The Good Place’.