Netflix's Dead to Me is back for a second season, and with it one of the most realistic portrayals of female friendship (and the ways in which it can occasionally be toxic) on television. Dead To Me season 2 delves even further into the loving but messy — very, very messy — relationship between widowed Jen (Christina Applegate) and her new BFF Judy (Linda Cardellini), two women who become even more inextricably linked throughout the second season of the dark (dark, dark) comedy. It’s still laugh-out-loud funny on occasion, but this season is much more focused on the inner drama of these women’s lives and their messed-up relationship.
The season 2 premiere picks up the morning after the season 1 finale, which means there are several important facts to remember about what happened between the two women: Jen and Judy became fast friends and even roommates after meeting at a grief support group where Jen was mourning the death of her husband Ted — which turned out to be a hit-and-run accident with Judy at the wheel. Although she wanted to call the cops for help, her abusive ex, Steve (James Marsden), convinced her to drive away. When Judy finally confessed the truth, Jen kicked her out — only to call her back home to discover Steve floating face down in Jen's pool, dead.
Other important figures to remember include Det Perez (Diana-Maria Riva), the person investigating Ted's death and the recipient of Judy's tip that Steve was laundering money through his art gallery; Nick (Brandon Scott), Judy's ex-flame who realised she and Steve were the ones who hit Jen's husband; Christopher Doyle (Max Jenkins), Jen's former real estate business partner; and Lorna Harding (Valerie Mahaffey), Jen's mother-in-law and new real estate colleague.
Eager to find out what happens next? Read along below.
Episode 1, "You Know What You Did"
It's the morning after the whole "accidentally killed Steve" situation, and Jen and Judy are in the kitchen trying to play it cool. Spoiler: it's not really working. Jen's sons Charlie (Sam McCarthy) and Henry (Luke Roessler) come downstairs for breakfast, where they're shocked to see Judy since Jen had told them Judy wasn't going to be in their lives anymore. In what will become a theme of this season, Jen and Judy tell an extremely unconvincing lie that Judy's just grabbing her things, and also the cover is on the pool because a dog died in it (literally... what?), but the boys go with it because they don't really have a reason to probe further.
This is a situation that will become more and more familiar: Jen and Judy lie about something, the person they're talking to knows it's not quite right, but everyone goes along with it anyway because it's easier that way and also who really cares if it's not the truth? You know, like when you tell your friends you're running late for dinner because of traffic but it's really because you didn't leave your house until the time you were supposed to be at the restaurant. They know you're lying, but it's easier to just not address it.
Later, Jen tells Judy about what actually happened the night before with Steve: He got in her face, tried to strangle her, and she had to fight back. No stranger to the toxic way in which a lie will eat at your soul, Judy asks her why she didn't just call the cops — it was a self-defence situation. Jen reminds Judy about Steve's many friends on the police force, and insists that they both need to keep quiet about the whole situation.
But when Jen returns to the pool and sees a bit of blood on the ground, she has a brief flashback to the night before. That's the perfect time for Jen's next-door neighbour Karen (Suzy Nakamura) to stop by to invite her over for some orange wine and some chit chat about how Karen overheard Jen arguing with a man the night before. Jen brushes it off by saying she was actually banging a random dude, and Karen casually reveals that her security camera captures the whole street. Though it's the actual last thing Jen wants to do, she agrees to share some wine right now, even though it's 11.30am. Be cool, Karen. As Jen confirms that the security tape definitely caught Steve coming into Jen's house, Karen is poking around the pool. Ever the spectacular meddler, she opens the pool cover. Jen silently freaks out as the cover opens so, so slowly, but there's nothing there.
Meanwhile, Judy's at work, where she asks if she can crash in an empty resident room. They're filled to capacity, so she plays it cool until she can go freak out in private since she legitimately has nowhere to go. She remembers that there is one other option, but is caught rummaging under what used to be her favourite resident Abe's bed just as the room's new resident moving in. The resident's daughter, Michelle (Natalie Morales), realises that Judy must have been looking for something, and later brings her a cigar box that had both weed (nice) and car keys (thanks, Abe!). Abe left Judy his car, so at least she can sleep there.
After a scary incident at an intersection on their block, Jen tells Charlie, who's getting his driver's permit, that she wants to petition the city to install a stop sign. He tells her that she's overreacting, and Jen lays down some very basic truth for him: Never tell a woman she is overreacting. If anything, women usually under-react. And by the way, if that's how she's reacting to the situation, it's just her reaction, not an over-reaction. It's an important lesson that should be driven into the brains of teen boys around the world, and then periodically re-drilled into their heads when they become adults. Dead to Me: Casually subverting patriarchal norms since 2019.
Jen watches backyard security camera footage that shows her holding a gun to Steve's head — but then putting it away. It's clear these flashback fits and starts will appear throughout the season until we get the full picture of what happened that night — but that whatever she told Judy isn't what really happened. She comforts Henry, who has a bad dream, and lies in bed crying before pouring herself a glass of red wine and calling Judy.
She can tell Judy is in her car in a parking lot somewhere, so she tells her to come over and they both cry in bed. “I didn’t realise I had it so good when I was regular unhappy,” Jen laments, in a statement that is apparently NOT a personal targeted attack against anyone upset with the current state of the world, but kind of feels like one. Judy cries about Steve, and Jen apologises. Judy tells her it's okay, Steve was attacking her, but another flashback reveals that it was the other way around: Steve said something truly terrible and Jen started attacking him. The next morning, Jen says Judy can stay there again, but there's a knock on the door. They open it, to reveal the man standing there is... Steve?
The biggest lingering question: STEVE IS ALIVE?
Episode 2, "Where Have You Been"
"Hi, Ben," says Judy. Who the eff is Ben, you (and Jen) ask? Oh, just Steve's equally hot twin brother. Apparently, the FBI came to Ben's house looking for Steve, and they've also raided Steve's office.
When he leaves, Judy tells Jen that she thinks they're looking for her — you know, because she turned in Steve for money laundering last week. But she can definitely fix it and steer them in another direction! Because that definitely works well for Judy. Jen tells her that's not a great idea, and that Steve was right — she brings chaos wherever she goes.
Jen realises that, as a single mother, she needs to make a new will, but she doesn't know who she will leave her kids to. At the office, she asks Lorna if she'll take the kids should anything happen to her — and no, she doesn't have cancer. Lorna is honoured, since raising Ted was the privilege of her life, and also does Jen want some pills? Unsurprisingly, Jen turns down her casual offer of fentanyl.
Judy visits Ben to let him know that Steve's art gallery was a front and that she turned Steve in for it, and Ben confesses that he's glad Judy and Steve broke up — Steve doesn't deserve her.
Jen heads to Henry's Holy Harmonies rehearsal — his jumpsuit-wearing christian rock choral group — where she runs into Christopher and his new puppy. He makes her hold it despite her protests, and it really does make her feel better. (You can't fight science, Jen: They've literally proven that bringing puppies into hospitals for patients to cuddle changes people's moods.) As she drives Henry and Charlie home, they talk about going on a vacation. All discussion drops when they see the cops at their house.
It's just Perez, there to drop off Jen's final restraining order for Judy — who unknowingly pop right out of Jen's front door. It was just a misunderstanding and Steve was behind the wheel, Jen says. Perez is not very impressed and, since she is one of the only people who is absolutely unconvinced by Jen and Judy's terrible lies, she warns Jen that Judy is a riptide who will drag her down, and Steve is caught up in some bad business. Later, Perez heads to Nick's house to tell him he was right about how Judy and Steve were involved in the hit and run and she needs his help. Is she offering him a job? Yes. Does he want to work with her or the racist chief of police? Absolutely not.
In the garage, Judy reveals why Perez is so suspicious of her: she thinks Judy tried to pay Jen off for accidentally killing her husband, and oh, also, Steve was actually working with the Greek mafia. Judy starts to freak out, saying she's trying to distract herself so she doesn't think about Steve being dead — and as long as Steve is safe then they're safe — and Jen acquiesces and they have an exchange about dinner. Oh, also, Judy made pie (cherry of course, Jen's favourite).
Ben visits while the Hardings are having dinner — he wants Judy to have one of the paintings she made for his mother years ago. He comes in for pie and some quick back story exposition: He has a teenage son, he's divorced, and he thinks Judy's right that Steve is in Mexico.
Henry interrupts this discussion when he comes in to the dining room distressed that Dad Bird (the bird he thinks is the spirit of his deceased father) isn't doing well. The creature is caught in the garage, and as Jen and Ben try to figure out what to do, Judy just climbs up and grabs the bird like she's a full-on Disney princess. (Which, aside from the vehicular manslaughter, she kind of is?) They set the bird free outside, and Jen thanks Judy for handling the situation — it's a good thing that she was there. She apologises for the whole Steve situation again, and Judy again tells her it's okay.
Later that night, Jen sees the bird at the garage window again — and realises that it's not a dad bird, it's actually a mom bird with a nest full of chicks inside. Jen relocates the nest outside of the garage, and has another flashback to the ~murder night~ of her and Judy pulling Steve out of the pool and putting his body in the deep freezer in the garage. This explains both why Judy was sitting in the garage and also why she said she felt safe when Steve was safe — safe in the freezer in the garage.
The biggest lingering question: What the hell are they gonna do with the dead body in the freezer?
More to come. You can expect the full recap on 10th May.