One thing I love about the modern way we watch tv is the ability to binge-watch old shows. Can you believe I’d never seen Seinfeld? We sure fixed that now.
Another show we recently binged that took a depressingly short amount of time was Dead Like Me.
Originally a Showtime show, we found it on Amazon Prime.
The show centers around an eighteen-year-old girl named George (Ellen Muth). She’s killed by a toilet seat falling out of the sky.
Upon dying, George is chosen to become a Grim Reaper, as the Reaper who took her soul has now moved on.
On where? No idea, that’s sort of a thing. None of the reapers know what’s waiting on the other side. They just know that they have to take the souls of those who have passed on to where they’re going.
George is greeted by Rube, played by Mandy Patinkin. He dispenses sticky notes with a first initial, last name, date and time.
This show was brilliant. We watched both seasons in no time at all. Let me break it down for you.
The show isn’t shy about hitting the hard issues in the first episode. Or any of them. The people who are dying aren’t bad. They’re children, beloved husbands, parents. Innocent, happy people who simply have an appointment.
For example, in the first episode, George has to take the soul of a little girl who dies in a train accident. We also take a good long look at what the loss of a child does to George’s parents. What losing a sister costs her little sister, Reggie.
This isn’t to say this show isn’t also funny as hell. I mean, George is killed by a falling toilet seat. She ends up working at a temp agency because being a grim reaper doesn’t pay. Literally, she’s not getting paid for this gig, and she still needs to do things like eat and pay rent.
Dead Like Me seems to go out of its way to not answer any big questions about the afterlife. The reapers don’t know. They only know that it looks different to every person and it looks fantastic. It’s like that episode of Are you Afraid of The Dark, Station 109.1. Near the end, Roy (played by Gilbert Gottfried) tells the main character that the afterlife is only terrible if you’ve led a bad life.
“If you’ve led a good life, it’s the best thing going.”
One thing that I always like to see is well-written characters. Characters that feel like they could be people walking through my own life. And Dead Like Me hit that on every level.
Not a single character on this show was exactly good, bad or frankly sane. They’ve all go their thing. They’re selfish, lazy, thieving, angry. Nothing is clear, really, about any of them. For example, the darling husband and I watched every episode together, and we couldn’t agree on whether George’s mom is a good woman trying her best, or a self-centered bitch who verbally abused her husband. I consider the fact that two people who tend to think alike on most things were so conflicted by this person.
So, that was all the good. Now, on to what wasn’t so great.
The show ended after two seasons. And it ended with far too many questions unanswered. I feel I need to warn you now, a lot of questions just don’t get answered. It doesn’t end on this big awful cliffhanger. But you never find out how Rube died. You never find out what happened to Betty when she followed a dead person into the light. You never find out why one dead person turned into a graveling. You just don’t know. You don’t know if Mason ever gets clean if Daisy finds the fulfillment she’s looking for. You just don’t know.
And if you were hoping that the movie was going to answer any of these questions, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
Let’s talk a little about the movie. Because while it wasn’t Serenity, it wasn’t what it could be.
The story starts with Rube finally getting his last reap and heading into whatever awaits Reapers after they’re done. He’s replaced by a slick Reaper named Kane. He encourages them to break all the rules, including saving people from their death, stealing from the dead and visiting family from their previous lives. Hilarity, and lots of pain, ensues.
But the whole thing is super convoluted and rushed. It was hard to follow everything as it was going so fast. I won’t say the ending wasn’t satisfying. But it wasn’t what it could be.
Would I say it’s not worth watching? Absolutely not. I loved every episode. Do I wish it was more satisfying? Yes, of course. But then, I imagine that George wishes the answers that waited for her after death was more satisfying. So maybe the show did exactly what it was supposed to do.