Wednesday, May 08, 2019

TV: Dead To All Of Us (spoilers)

DEAD TO ME is NETFLIX's latest offering.  It's a test of endurance in many ways.


Christina Appelgate stars as Jen Harding, a real estate agent and a recent widow.  At a grief group, she meets Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini).  Jen's husband was killed by a hit-and-run-driver.  Judy explains to the group that her fiancee died.

Jen ends up trusting Judy only to learn that the fiancee (James Marsden) is not dead, he broke up with Judy.  Over and over, truths will emerge and Jen will frequently get mad but repeatedly forgive Jen in the end (including in the last episode).  Is it believable?

Or is Judy herself believable?  Repeatedly, she will attempt to take a stand only to immediately collapse with a weak "okay" and go along -- regardless of what the stand is.  So is that believable?

We'd say "no," but we read Valerie Jarrett's FINDING MY VOICE: MY JOURNEY TO THE WEST WING AND THE PATH FORWARD.  For two terms, she was then-President Barack Obama's senior advisor. Reading the volume, we were amazed at how little she did and how little she spoke.  It's rather embarrassing, over and over, to see her make a declaration and then wait to see if Barack shot it down or not.  If he didn't, for example, say, "No, you can't leave the room," she would leave.  Otherwise?  Was this a book written by an independent woman or a book on how to train your Cocker Spaniel?

How believable is Christina's Jen?  How much forgiveness does one person possess?  To be lied to repeatedly -- over and over -- including one really big lie that gets exposed in the second to the last episode?  How do you forgive that?

DEAD TO ME wants to be BIG LITTLE LIES but it doesn't have a coherent storyline and it also can't focus on what it wants to be -- comedy, suspense, thriller, drama, you name it because it's all over the map.

Among the supporting players, strong performances are given by Ed Asner, Diana Maria Riva, James Marsden and Telma Hopkins (who also sings a nice cover of "Don't Leave Me This Way").

Steve Howey shows up as Jason -- mainly to show off his pecs -- or are they so big that we call them tits?  No matter how big his body gets, he's still the smallest of actors and you have to marvel over the fact that he continues to get work while his former co-star Scarlett Pomers has retired from acting.

Christina shouldn't retire from acting.  But she should get better projects.  UP ALL NIGHT was her previous sitcom and she deserved season one.  She didn't deserve season two -- no one did -- especially not women.  All of the sudden, she has no job and can't function while stay-at-home Dad is suddenly doing everything.  The audience fled and for good reason.  (Christina fled when Lorne Michaels decided the show should be revamped again and filmed in front of a studio audience.)

DEAD TO ME is also beneath her.  She nails the right notes in her scenes but it's all unbelievable.  SPOILER -- in the end she's even forgiving Judy for running over her husband and killing him.  Again, we're left with how much forgiveness is one person supposed to have?

Yes, accidents happen and, yes, you can work to forgive a stranger but who forgives the woman who killed your husband and, furthermore, tells her to come "home"?

It's completely beyond belief.

Suspend disbelief?  That's the phrase Hillary Clinton tossed around in September 2007, when she was a US senator and questioning Gen David Petraeus.  To believe him, you'd have to suspend disbelief.  And she couldn't.  Neither could we.

Today, we can't suspend disbelief enough to believe Hillary's lie.   Hillary's latest lie? "I really do believe we're in a crisis, a constitutional crisis."  Really?

You really believe we're in a Constitutional crisis?

Because if that's the truth, then you really are a despicable person.  All you've ever done is brag about your commitment to civic duty but now you claim that you believe the country is in the midst of a Constitutional crisis and you're telling people that . . . as long as they pay -- what?

$1785 is what she wanted per ticket.  But she can't fill the venues.  So the price keeps dropping.  Again, if you really believed that, you'd be making these speeches for free.  Unless, of course, you're so pathetic and greedy, you would try to profit off your own country's pain?

BIG LITTLE LIES worked (season one) because it had a cohesive storyline with believable characters.  We had a few e-mails responding to our review that slammed us for revealing a key detail -- who the father of the 'troubled' child was.  We hadn't read the book and we don't believe that anyone we knew with the show (Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, David E. Kelley) had passed that on.  It was obvious, watching just the first episode, what was going on.  Judy being the one who ran over Jen's husband is also obvious from the start of DEAD TO ME -- only it's obvious in a "please don't let them go there and be that obvious."  But they do (go there) and they are (that obvious).

Christina Applegate deserves better.  She's turned into the Barbara Stanwyck of her generation -- an actress who can do it all -- melodrama, comedy, drama, musicals, you name it.  But despite even her heroic acts, DEAD TO ME never comes to life.

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