Review: Dead to Me

Abi Taphouse, Online Screen Editor, reviews Netflix's new dark comedy series, Dead to Me

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I began watching Dead to Me on Netflix on Saturday night and despite the fact I had an exam on the Tuesday afternoon, I had finished it by Sunday morning. The balance achieved between the very real and traumatic loss of Jen’s husband, Nick, and the easy watching aspects of the series that Netflix was trying to create, work in perfect harmony. The plot is substantially engaging and dynamic, if slightly predictable. But I would go as far as to say that I did enjoy it. It was quite satisfying to be able to predict the twists and turns and it made them no less entertaining.

‘Dead to Me recreates the convincing realism required to carry off a comedic take on a brutal murder.’

Despite the nature of the series, it does not make you feel sad. There are moments of raw emotion from the characters but they are not intense or long lived enough to really make you feel it too. Some see this as a flaw, I see this as a bonus. I didn’t want to watch something sad because, frankly, I didn’t have the time for any emotional trauma. Had I watched the trailer and realised the programme revolves around a tragic death then I would not have started it. Instead, it pulls on themes of drama and murder mystery, along with the obligatory comedy elements. It channels the vibe of recently (tragically) cancelled Netflix series, Santa Clarita Diet. If you enjoyed that, you will enjoy this. Watching Drew Barrymore viciously tear apart local Nazis was bizarre, but only if you really thought about it. Dead to Me recreates the convincing realism required to carry off a comedic take on a brutal murder.

The most intriguing aspect of the series is the dramatic irony that we see throughout. The whole plot relies on the fact the audience know what some of the characters do not. This is what makes it so predictable but then so rewarding. We watch not for the shock factor, but because we want to see our predictions come true.

‘We watch not for the shock factor, but because we want to see our predictions come true.’ 

The one real downfall of Dead to Me, for me, was the ending. In what had, up until now, been a relatively convincing storyline, the ending seemed to undermine everything the characters had built and had been shown to be. I walked away feeling disappointed in the fact that Netflix seem to have thrown away anything they had built in this series, to ensure they could make another. It was blatantly obvious that they wanted to keep open the possibility for another series, but in doing so, compromised the ending of this. It seems to be a common occurrence for Netflix to deliberately write an ending that means they can renew it for another series, even if they decide not to (Santa Clarita Diet RIP). Although it may be satisfying for their bank accounts, it is not necessarily satisfying for the fans, or the integrity of the show. Netflix are producing so much content at the moment, and it is hugely influential in the streaming world, but they run the risk of losing their status for an easy buck. Not cool, Netflix, not cool.

Overall, Dead to Me, is something I would recommend. Up until the ending I was quite enjoying it and perhaps it was just me being fussy. Perhaps Netflix have an even better second series up their sleeves. We shall have to wait and see.

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