After a very eventful first season, best friends Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini) are fighting to keep their deadly secrets hidden while trying to protect the ones they love. Meanwhile, old and new faces show up to lend them a helping hand while also complicating a number of situations.
Dead to Me’s first season introduced us to the hilariously perfect duo of Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, the two pieces that make this series so irresistibly addicting. In this second season, this pairing is better than ever, with every single moment they share together proving to be just as entertaining as the last. Firstly, Christina is just absolutely hilarious. The no-bullshit one-liners that she busts out through the season are absolutely brilliant. Not a single episode goes by without a line or two from her that gets a really solid laugh. On the other hand, Linda dishes out a different style of humour that’s a little more quirky but still brings a number of big laughs through the season. The combination of these two comedic geniuses going back and forth is really what gives the show its unique identity.
Their comedic presence is absolutely flawless, but they also both deliver raw emotional performances that delve deep into the darker side of the series that deals with grief. There are a number of scenes where the two of them deliver some deeply impactful moments of heart and vulnerability that contrast perfectly with the comedic aspects. There is one scene in particular, in the penultimate episode, where they both showcase their incredible acting talents, and it’s absolutely riveting. One of the best moments of the season. The characters are so perfectly built by the two performers that they literally disappear into their roles. There is no better pairing I’d rather have at the forefront of this great series. I will also mention that Christina Applegate is a damn good cryer… there’s no acting there, they’re real tears as far as I’m concerned.
The first season of Dead to Me suffered from some pacing issues where things would drift off mid-way through an episode, feeling like filler, before picking back up towards the end of an episode. That seems to be largely fixed in this season, save for a couple of the early episodes. This season gets progressively better as it goes on and more and more unpredictable twists and turns make things more exciting. The first episode is good, although it feels more like it’s guiding us from the plot of the last season into the plot of this season which picks up from the second episode. Tonally, it feels like this season begins at episode two, which is where the main arc begins to take hold and things get better from there.
The following two or three episodes have a couple of dips in the middle, where it goes off on a tangent and slows a little, but beyond that it’s smooth sailing. Each episode does something to flip things on its head or take a left turn where it looks like it’s going right. This may seem like it would get repetitive but the creativity in the storytelling keeps things fresh. The final two or three episodes, as things build up to the climax are the best of the season. So many plot points all wrap back around in a way that shows you exactly how much focus and detail has gone into the writing. A good twist isn’t just something that comes out of nowhere, it’s something that is foreshadowed in a way that you wouldn’t notice it at first but when you go back, you can see how it was hinted at. It adds a lot to ensuring the twists all remain satisfying rather than annoying.
Now, I did mention the incredible performances from both Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, but there are a couple of others in here I want to highlight. This season sees the introduction of a new character, Michelle (Natalie Morales), who I loved through every single scene she’s in. She brings a bit of a new dynamic to the series and allows one of the other characters to grow beyond what we’ve seen of her so far. Diana Maria Riva gets more time to shine as Detective Perez and there’s an angle taken with her character that I liked and that she pulled off really well. Even the young Luke Roessler has a couple of brief standout moments. I’m still not entirely on board with Charlie as a character. Sam McCarthy’s performance is fine however the character feels like he’s there to cause problems and doesn’t have much going for him in terms of likability.
In the end, Dead to Me returned with a stronger season that delivered more twists, laughs and emotion, resulting in a great story with only a few instances of dragging or drifting off on a tangent. Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are the heart and soul of the series, both delivering a tonne of laugh-out-loud moments and exhibiting stellar on-screen chemistry. With things only getting better in this season, I can’t wait to see how it all progresses in season three.