On a recent rewatch of Netflix’s pitch-black dark comedy Dead To Me, I was again amazed at the brilliance of Christina Applegate’s searing, dark, and deeply angry performance. Hers was a career-changing performance. It was the kind of role actors of any gender crave, and here, it was an actress at the height of her abilities, unchained and unhinged. I loved her work here, but I wasn’t sure whether or not the Television Academy would embrace such a dark series.
Turns out, nearly every major awards body recognized her. Applegate received nominations at the Emmy Awards, Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, and Screen Actors Guild. Granted, she didn’t win anything, but the nomination in this case was 100 percent the award. On top of that, the Writers Guild of America recognized Season 1 as the best in episodic comedy.
Plus, Dead To Me was plain and simply a very good show. It turned the female buddy trope on its head. It was very honest, in my male opinion mind you, about the imperfections and strengths in women. About female bonding. About motherhood and those who cannot be biological mothers. It told us a lot about grief and about anger. And it was something you literally could not stop watching.
Season 2, premiering today, one-ups Dead To Me‘s freshman season in nearly every way. So, can it match the increase in quality with a sophomore season bounce in Emmy nominations? It can happen.
The second season delivers the goods in several ways, and early reviews back that up. The script allows Applegate to expand on her first season performance by focusing less on the grief and more on her caustic wit. She had comedic moments in the first season, but they’re more sharply honed and prevalent in Season 2. Also, the second season flips the narrative between Applegate and her co-star Linda Cardellini, so it opens opportunities for Cardellini to dig deeper into her character’s lingering grief and sadness while allowing her to discover fleeting moments of joy.
And there’s a truly great comedic performance from someone I can’t name (spoiler alert for sure). It will undoubtedly go completely unsung as is the lot for this performer. But it’s special work nonetheless.
As Season 2 premieres, the only guarantee seems a repeat nomination for star Christina Applegate, but can Linda Cardellini make it in too? It’s a tight squeeze for sure. There are probably two slots remaining assuming Rachel Brosnahan, Catherine O’Hara, Pamela Adlon, and Applegate are locked. The remaining contenders for those two slots include Cardellini, Merritt Wever for Run, Kristen Bell for The Good Place, and Jane Fonda/Lily Tomlin for Grace & Frankie. Cardellini probably isn’t at the top of that list, but she absolutely deserves to be.
If the series can build off of that Writers Guild win, then perhaps a screenplay nomination is possible. Direction might be a stretch, but if the Television Academy broadly embraces Season 2 as it did Barry Season 2, then anything is possible. Now, one thing to note: Dead To Me Season 2 doesn’t take the same cinematically artistic leaps that Barry often does. Plus, it’s about suburbia, not actors. Yet, it can be a trend for a show that receives some attention in Season 1 to build on that attention with a bigger hug from the Television Academy. If that’s the case, then the series would make it into the top seven Emmy nominees.
At any rate, Dead To Me Season 2 is a binge-worthy delight and solidifies itself as one of the very best comedies on television.