REVIEW: Strong performances give ‘Dead to Me’ life

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REVIEW: Strong performances give ‘Dead to Me’ life

By Taylor Sindle, Correspondent

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At first glance, the basic, oversimplified title “Dead to Me” makes the show sound like a by-the-books teen drama. However, the first five minutes of this disturbingly entertaining Netflix Original quickly disproves that. Jen (Christina Applegate), a new widow grappling with her husband’s hit-and-run death, shares a painfully awkward scene with a neighbor. The show’s witty writing and convincing acting immediately gets the audience on her side.

At a grief counseling session, Jen meets Judy (Linda Cardellini), trying to recover from her own losses. Free-spirited Judy, the opposite of Jen, becomes a quick friend, and the two bond over grievances, wine and “The Facts of Life,” developing an extremely strong friendship.

Plot twists are a mix of predictable moments, and the particularly obvious ones are one of the show’s key weaknesses. “Dead to Me” uses its fairly simple writing to focus on stellar performances. Applegate shines as the sarcastic, often dry Jen who takes matters into her own hands finding her husband’s killer. Cardellini then plays innocent Judy extremely well, leading viewers to root for her even after discovering her dark secret.

James Marsden as Judy’s ex-fiance, Steve, serves as comic relief in a show that rides the edge of funny and depressing. Marsden is a foil for the audience to openly hate so they can support the not-so-innocent character, but he elevates his role past its one-dimensional appearance.

With a notable cast, “Dead to Me” definitely delivers. This dark comedy will surely live on for a very long time.