The Netflix series follows recent widow Jen (Christina Applegate) as she enters into a surprise friendship with Judy (Linda Cardellini) after they meet at a grief group. Only, Judy has a major secret: She and her ex Steve (James Marsden) are responsible for the death of Jen's husband via a hit-and-run. Her guilt is what causes her to seek out Jen, and they bond quickly, which only makes it more heartbreaking when the secret eventually comes out.
The three-season series doesn't stop there, though. Jen ends up killing Steve and keeping the specific hows and whys secret from Judy while also entering into a relationship with Steve's twin brother Ben (also Marsden). Steve's disappearance sets everyone on edge, draws the attention of the cops, and eventually causes Ben to fall off the wagon and cause a hit-and-run of his own. His victims? Jen and Judy.
Don't worry, they don't die in the accident, but it just meant the pain (and let's face it, the cursing) continues through a third and final season that sees them scrambling to cover their involvement in Steve's death as the FBI gets involved, while Judy also gets a cancer diagnosis that changes everything. For one final time, both women have to contend with death, but it's not all doom and gloom.
Jen also gets surprise health news (she's pregnant with Ben's baby), and people you wouldn't expect step up and become important allies to Jen and Judy.
The show also explores infertility and miscarriages, mother issues, low self-esteem, LGBTQIA+ relationships, and more.
There many not be another show that explores anger, grief, and friendship formed in trauma bonds quite like Dead to Me. But if you're interested in series with one or two of these elements, or even series that also star the famous faces of Dead to Me, here, Metacritic highlights 10 shows to watch next now that Dead To Me has come to an end.
Best for: Those interested in protagonists with a sense of arrested development
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Although Dead to Me finds some humor in its lead characters' criminal activity, Back to Life is a much more cautionary tale. Miri Matteson (Daisy Haggard, who also co-created the series) serves 18 years for allegedly pushing her best friend off of a cliff, and when she gets out (when the series begins), she returns to her hometown where everyone knows her name and what she was convicted of, and tries to start her life for the first time. It's a story about forgiveness and the idea of redemption, which are themes that pop up in Dead to Me as well. Its dry sense of humor also will have you laughing in unexpected moments, not unlike that Netflix series.
"Back to Life is a quiet and emotionally genuine series that hinges on the fantastic interactions among its characters." — Allison Keene, Paste Magazine
Best for: Fans of dark family dramas
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If you were a fan of Cardellini's before Dead To Me, you may have already caught her in this dark Netflix drama about a dysfunctional family hiding a lot of secrets (and crimes). But if not, now would be the time to check it out because her Dead to Me character Judy seems to share some DNA with her Bloodline character Meg — at least in how they both want to smooth things over for their loved ones. Bloodline centers on the Rayburn family, of which Meg is the only surviving daughter in a family of five siblings. The family is mostly close, but for Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), who is considered the black sheep and blamed for the death of the other sister, Sarah, when he was just a teenager. He returns home in the first season carrying scars of abuse he suffered at the hands of his family after that death and creates havoc with his brother John (Kyle Chandler), especially after the death of their father (played by Sam Shepard).
"There's not a lackluster performance among the superb cast members of Bloodline; Chandler and Cardellini, especially, are in top form." — Hank Stuever, The Washington Post
Best for: Fans of female entrepreneurs
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In some ways, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) in Weeds is who Jen Harding could have been if things shifted only slightly left. Jen had a family real estate business (though she doesn't really enjoy it) and Judy to lean on, but when Nancy's husband dies unexpectedly, she is left to fend for herself and for her two sons (played by Hunter Parrish and Alexander Gould). She turns to selling pot in order to keep them in their house, school, and general comfortable lifestyle. Naturally, she ends up (excuse the pun) in the weeds of the criminal underworld thanks to other drug runners around her, cartels, the need to start a front for her business, and the attention of authorities. Over the course of the eight-season series, the show comments a lot on consumerism and the American dream, expanding Nancy's empire but not always keeping her out of trouble. And yes, there is murder in this one, too.
"It's a good show waiting to happen, television cliches and all." — Melanie McFarland, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Best for: Fans of female friendship-focused comedies
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Grief is pretty prevalent in Pivoting, as the one-season sitcom begins with the untimely death of one of a tight-knit group of four friends, which leads each of the other three to seize their lives in new and unexpected ways as to not have any regrets before their own time is up. For Amy (Eliza Coupe), it means committing to spending more time with her children; for Jodie (Ginnifer Goodwin), it means pursuing an affair; and for Sarah (Maggie Q), it means quitting her job as a doctor. All of them lean on each other more than ever before, as well, deepening their longtime friendship.
"The best moments of Pivoting are the ones that bring all three friends crashing together, which brings out the best in the writing and acting both." — Caroline Framke, Variety
Best for: Fans of unlikely friendships and sharp humor
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Before Feldman created Dead to Me, she worked as a writer and producer on 2 Broke Girls, a sitcom about two waitresses and roommates living and working together in New York City. Kat Dennings plays Max Black, a working-class woman who is known for her sarcastic wit, and Beth Behrs plays Caroline Channing, a spoiled socialite who loses her wealth and has to rough it as a regular person when her father is indicted in a Ponzi scheme. The two may be reluctant friends at first, not unlike Jen's begrudging acceptance of Judy, but their seeming opposite personalities (and experiences) make them perfectly balanced. Over the course of the seasons, they even end up going into business together to open a cupcake shop.
"The odd-couple pairing is one of the oldest ones in the TV playbook, and the two mismatched waitresses in 2 Broke are good company." — Maureen Ryan, The Huffington Post
Best for: Fans of deeper looks at sitcom tropes and two stylized series in one
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When you talk about creating a unique tone for a series, this may be the series that first comes to mind. Playing with the idea of how stereotypical sitcom husbands' behavior is problematic, this two-season AMC dramedy splits its story into two perspectives: the titular character (played by Eric Petersen) gets the full multi-camera experience, complete with blown-out lighting and a laugh track, but in order to explore the mind of his put-upon wife Allison (Annie Murphy), the show follows her point of view into a much more realistic single-camera world. And when it does, it explores a new, somewhat co-dependent relationship with neighbor Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden), as well as her desire to kill her husband, which she plans do to all throughout Season 1 but fails at the end of the season, leading her to decide to fake her own death in the second season instead.
"The conceit — a happy facade in front of friends and family, bleak realism when she's 'off' — is a good one. [But] we end up watching two increasingly unrelated narratives — the better of which keeps getting interrupted by a clunking '90s sitcom." — Lucy Mangan, The Guardian
Best for: Fans of female friendships, chosen families, and quotable characters
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When a pregnant Maggie (Lennon Parham) learns her husband Bruce (Brad Morris) is cheating on her, she kicks him out. When Maggie's best friend Emma (Jessica St. Clair) learns Bruce cheated on her, she moves in. For Emma, this means giving up a successful international business to return to her hometown, which is full of ghosts (including an ex played by Keegan-Michael Key), but it also means returning to longtime in-jokes and co-parenting with Maggie. The show originally aired on cable network USA, so its language is a more sanitized than in Dead to Me, but the banter between Maggie and Emma feels even more lived-in and relatable because their characters have a deep history together.
"The humor gets low at times, but the characters themselves do not; which is not to say that they keep their dignity. The conversation is long on riffing and syntactically comical constructions." — Robert Lloyd, the Los Angeles Times
Best for: Fans of watching female characters break bad
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If what you like most about Dead to Me is how it mixes complicated female friendship with bumbling crimes, Good Girls might be for you. The show starts off fairly simply, with three women who are in need of extra money deciding to rob a supermarket — only to realize the manager of that particular market is in bed with a local crime gang. The women come away with way more money than they expected, but they also draw the attention of one of the higher-ranking criminals and have to go into the money-laundering business for him. As they keep this new secret from loved ones, including spouses, they get caught up in more personal and new professional crises, including developing a taste for such risky behavior. The series stars Retta, Mae Whitman, Christina Hendricks, and Manny Montana.
"The resulting frying-pan-and-fire story line forces the three leads to confront how serious they are about being criminals. The problem, as enjoyable as Good Girls often is, is that it seems unsure how serious it is about being a crime story." — James Poniewozik, The New York Times
Best for: Fans of Applegate and Jean Smart
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This one is for fans of Applegate who want to see her in a role that feels almost like a precursor to Jen. Samantha Newly (Applegate) is the epitome of a cold career woman when she is the victim of a hit-and-run (sound familiar?), only this time she comes out of the experience with amnesia. The person who wakes up is much sweeter and seemingly more innocent than the Sam everyone knows and remembers not-so fondly (though Applegate seems to have even more fun playing Old/Bad Sam in flashbacks), and this Sam wants to form new bonds, even as she also wants to remember her past. This means she tries to make amends with her parents (played by Smart and Kevin Dunn); tries to juggle friendships with her best friend and coworker Andrea (Jennifer Esposito), her childhood friend Dena (Melissa McCarthy), her ex Todd (Barry Watson); and win over her doorman Frank (Tim Russ) — all of whom have their own ways of adjusting to or hoping to get rid of New Sam.
"Samantha Who? could easily be a complete mess. That it isn't is almost entirely due to Applegate, who brings sweetness, sarcasm and a steely edge to this story of a woman doing everything she can not to become the person she's always been." — Ellen Gray, Philadelphia Daily News
Best for: Those who want to watch legends act with each other
Where to watch: Netflix
Although this Netflix comedy is much lighter in tone than Dead to Me, it shares the starting point of bringing together two very different women into an all-important relationship. In this case, the titular characters (played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, respectively) learn their husbands have been carrying on a decades-long affair with each other, effectively ending their marriages. Grace is more uptight and image-conscious, while Frankie is a free spirit and an artist. They end up leaning on each other a lot when it comes to their respective relationships with their exes, their kids, and their new boyfriends; going into business with each other; and living together. Their adventures are often wacky, but that doesn't mean the show doesn't get deep about issues including illness, aging, and death. If you look closely and are so inclined, you will likely draw many parallels that allow you to imagine these two are just Jen and Judy, fast-forwarded to a later point in their lives and with slightly different family situations.
"The cuckoo is stitched together by the heft of Fonda and Tomlin's performances and the intimacy of the writing when the show manages to take a step back and give the characters a beat for self-analysis." — Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast