About That Kennedy Reference In Dead To Me — The "So Hot, So Sad" JFK Jr.

Photo: Justin Ide/Getty Images.
About a third of the way through the pilot episode of Netflix’s Dead To Me, our leads Judy (Linda Cardellini) and Jen (Christina Applegate) are having a late night chat when the subject of Judy’s recently deceased husband Steve (James Marsden) comes up.
Like anyone in the 21st century learning about a friend’s significant other, Jen asks Judy for a photo. The pair immediately comment on the obvious: Marsden — or rather, Steve — is a very good-looking guy.
“I always thought he had kind of a JFK Jr. vibe,” Judy says.
“God,” Jen replies, “JFK Jr. was so hot.”
So hot,” Judy echoes.
“And then just so sad,” Jen continues. Judy agrees: “So sad!”
It’s a funny moment, but true to the show’s black comedy roots, Jen and Judy’s rumination on JFK Jr. also brings to mind an American tragedy. JFK Jr. died in 1999 when a plane he was piloting from New Jersey to Massachusetts went down over the Atlantic Ocean. JFK Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette were all killed in the incident, though it took five days to confirm and recover their bodies, per ABC News.
John F. Kennedy Jr. was a beloved public figure since he was born, just weeks after his father John F. Kennedy was elected president. His toddler years were spent in the White House and under the spotlight, culminating in a famous photo of him saluting his father’s casket after his assassination in 1963. JFK Jr. was three years old at the time. JFK Jr.’s uncle, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was killed just five years later during a run for the presidency, beginning ongoing theories about the so-called “Kennedy Curse.”
These traumatic events profoundly shaped the rest of JFK Jr.’s life. Breaking away from established family norms, he attended Brown University and discovered an affinity for theater. He eventually attended law school at New York University, worked at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, founded the politics and pop culture magazine George, and earned yet another top distinction: in 1988, he was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive. His personal life made as many headlines as his legal career, and including dating actress Sarah Jessica Parker and singer Madonna before secretly marrying Bessette in 1996.
Today, JFK Jr.’s legacy remains intact as both the heir to a political dynasty and a prominent pop cultural figure. It’s a unique memory: one that can be honored by prestigious institutions such as Harvard University (the school named the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum of Public Affairs in his honor) yet immediately understood as a shorthand reference by thousands of Netflix viewers.

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