The one thing you need to know going into Dead To Me season 2 is that Jen (Christina Applegate) has killed a man. This is a soapy Netflix drama, so more information will be revealed as you watch, but at the end of season 1 it’s crystal clear that Steve (James Marsden) is floating in a pool surrounded by his own blood and Jen is the one who put him there. Now, in season 2, Jen and her best friend Judy (Linda Cardellini), who just so happens to be Steve’s ex-fiance, are tasked with covering up Steve’s death and masking the guilt that comes along with that. It’s a lot.
But Steve was generally a bad guy, right? He stopped Judy from helping Jen’s husband Ted after she accidentally hit him with her car — a move that was likely the difference between Ted living or dying. He was doing deals with the Greek mob, which can’t be good. He slept with Judy and then dared to refer to her as a client in front of his actual girlfriend. He backed out of a real estate deal with Jen that cost her a ton of money. And he showed up angry and aggressive at Jen’s house in the middle of the night, demanding to see Judy. He basically deserved to die… right?
Well, as the circumstances around Steve’s death and Judy’s complicated feelings for her former partner start to come out throughout season 2, things start to get a little grey. And very uncomfortable for everyone involved. Which is exactly what showrunner Liz Feldman wants from you… again. Lest we forget, Jen’s current predicament was Judy’s plight in season 1.
“We intentionally like to explore that question of, can you root for somebody who has done wrong? Especially because you pretty quickly, early on in the season, understand why Jen’s doing what she's doing,” she tells Refinery29 in late April via video chat. “Listen, I'm talking about it with my therapist. I don't know what my obsession is with good people doing bad things, but I think it represents the potential duality in all of us. There's a dichotomy to being a human being, which is that we know better, but we still do bad things sometimes.”
And while Jen is definitely a generally good person who did a bad thing, Feldman notes that she’s also “a deeply flawed character who needs to look at herself.” What better way to tease that out someone than to drop them in a giant vat of guilt for 10 episodes? The trailer teases with moments like Jen chastising Judy about their situation, saying “Not everything’s a Disney movie about to start, fucking castles and sparkle time, okay?” (A gem. Full stop.) In season 2, the stress of hiding her crime gets to her pretty quickly, which leads us to one of Jen’s more notable attributes: Her anger.
“We created this character in Jen, who from the jump of episode 1 in season 1, clearly has some anger. Her anger can help her at times, but anger unchecked can be a poison,” explains Feldman. But when season 1 first dropped, Jen’s temper was actually what so many women loved about the character. “I was really blown away by how much women specifically related to her anger.”
But that rage unchecked, as it was when Jen dispatched Steve from this earthly plane, is what Feldman wanted to dig into for season 2 — without condemning her character for expressing it other times.
“There are two sides to anger. It can be incredibly cathartic and feel good to release, but it can also get you in a lot of trouble. I wanted to explore both of those sides,” she says.
And explore she does, when season 2 of Dead To Me drops on Netflix May 8.