If you’re anything like us — and millions of other viewers — then you’ve already binge-watched seasons 1 and 2 of Dead to Me on Netflix. The dark comedy, starring Christina Applegate as Jen Harding and Linda Cardellini as Judy Hale, has become one of the most popular original series on the streaming platform … and for good reason!
Warning: spoilers ahead. At first, the show seems like a quirky story about two women who are polar opposites and their blossoming friendship. However, through several twists, turns and car crashes, the plot becomes something entirely different.
In season 1, audiences learn that Judy and her then-boyfriend, Steve Wood (played by James Marsden), are responsible for murdering Jen’s husband, Ted, in a hit-and-run. While Steve tries to manipulate Judy into keeping their secret, she eventually comes clean.
Forgiveness, grief and friendship, much like these characters, are extremely complex, and ultimately, that’s what Dead to Me is all about. Yes, a lot of the plot is focused on these unrealistic crimes, but other topics like miscarriage and cancer come into play as a means of humanizing the characters.
In a 2019 interview with Vanity Fair, Christina Applegate revealed that it was her idea for Jen to have undergone a double mastectomy, something she went through in real life after a breast cancer diagnosis in 2008.
“I needed to find something that gave Jen a vulnerability because I felt like — OK so she is hard, she’s angry, she’s a rattlesnake that got stepped on,” the longtime actress explained. “I’ve never seen a character on television talk about it. I loved how [the writers] were able to weave that in, in such a way that we weren’t making it a PSA. It’s a part of who she is.”
With that, Jen, just like Judy, who faced her own traumas, aren’t characters you can easily write off as “good” or “bad” … even when they kill someone. At the end of season 1, episode 10, “You Have to Go,” Jen and Steve get into a heated argument while he’s looking for Judy. Their fight culminates in Jen hitting him over the back of the head, and he later dies after drowning in her pool.
Season 2 follows the aftermath of Jen’s crime, including a budding romance between her and Steve’s identical twin brother, Ben, as well as the fact Jen and Judy buried Steve’s body in a neighboring town. Just like the season prior, episode 10, “Where Do We Go From Here,” ends in a major cliffhanger with Ben nearly killing Judy and Jen in a hit-and-run.
Thankfully, Dead to Me has been given the green light for season 3. Sadly, it will be the last! Even so, we’re glad Judy and Jen’s story is being given a proper end. While we’re waiting for that, get to know the actresses in real life, along with the rest of the supporting cast. Scroll through the gallery below to see them all.
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