The Advocate

9+ Fascinating Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Netflix's 'Dead To Me'

By now, you've seen Dead to Me.

If you haven't, stop what you're doing and go watch it right this second.

The show follows a widower who joins a grief counseling group and stumbles into an unlikely friendship. That is the most spoiler-free way of describing the show that I can give you.

Here's some fun facts about the making of the show! Beware of spoilers.

The creative team was almost entirely female

YouTube | BUILD Series

From its creator, Liz Feldman, to its all-female writing team, 80% female directing team, and the show's stars Christina Applegate and Linda Caredellini, the series is an achievement for women in film.

The series is loosely based on Liz Feldman's own fertility journey

YouTube | Netflix

In an article for Glamour, she outlined how the show was inspired by her own struggles to get pregnant.

"Turning 40 can be a real mind bender, especially if you’re on fertility hormones and trying to get pregnant for what feels like the 600th time."

It's also based on the loss she experienced at that same time

YouTube | Netflix

In the midst of turning 40 and trying to get pregnant, Feldman also very suddenly lost her beloved cousin, David, to a heart attack.

She turned her journey into art.

"The story, though not autobiographical, is deeply personal. The facts are made up. The feelings are real." She wrote.

The actors would improv some lines


Because of the natural chemistry between Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, the cameras would keep rolling past when their dialogue would end.

The two would improv their conversations as Jen and Judy.

Jen's double mastectomy was added a the request of Christina Applegate

YouTube | Netflix

Like Jen, Applegate also had a double mastectomy. She carried the BRCA1 gene, which her mother, a breast cancer survivor, also had.

Applegate added the story in to help her understand Jen's source of anger, and to bring awareness to women who have had mastectomies.

Applegate had a breakdown shooting the car smashing scene


After each take of Jen smashing a car, she would climb into her own character's car and sob while sitting next to Cardellini.

When she explained that she didn't understand why she was crying, Cardellini simply told her that her body didn't know she was faking her rage.

"That was one of the many times I fell in love with Linda Cardellini," Applegate said.

Sometimes, their reactions to certain scenes were unscripted

YouTube | Netflix

After Ted's birthday party was finished, Jen found a note from her son in a balloon.

Reading, "I wish I could still play Wrath of Hades with you," the note made Applegate cry — so they kept it in.

Judy's exclamation after finding out about Abe's death was also unscripted.

They had the hardest time with the crying scenes

YouTube | Netflix

The two absolutely loved when Jen and Judy would scheme, or laugh with one another.

They much preferred those to their crying scenes. "It was just like, 'Oh, I don't cry today? Fantastic.'"

There was no one for the role of Jen except for Christina Applegate

YouTube | Netflix

When Feldman was casting the series, a suggestion of Applegate's name gave her a physical reaction.

"The very first person they suggested for the show was Christina and it was one of those moments where I got the chills."

Talk about a gut instinct.

Applegate and Cardellini both knew all the twists

YouTube | Netflix

In order to really communicate the secrets both characters were meant to hold, the actresses knew ahead of time everything their characters were hiding — including what they were hiding from each other.

So yeah, the last five minutes of the last episode? They both probably knew that was coming.

This is Applegate's first television role in 7 years


Applegate was in "semi-retirement," according to her, but was lured out by the role of Jen.

"I feel like if I'm going to be doing anything, if you're going to take me away from my kids for three months, it better be with an amazing group of people that are of quality and are kind, smart and interesting." She said.

But Applegate didn't think she was meant to be Jen

YouTube | Netflix

Originally, she assumed that Feldman wanted her for the role of Judy.

When Feldman told her she wanted her for Jen, because she "was a Jen," Applegate recoiled.

"How do I take that? "You are a Jen." Like so, I'm an angry drunk? And then I was like, "Oh, you know what, you're right. This is totally me." She said.

For Cardellini, the show was the challenge she was looking for

YouTube | Netflix

After projects like Avengers: Endgame, she wanted something that would push her.

"I've been trying to just say yes to things that scare me or challenge me or are completely different from things I’ve done before." She said.

Will Ferrel executive produced the series

Alongside Adam McKay and Christina Applegate, the original Anchorman team reunited to produce Dead to Me.

Some believe that a scene between Jen and Steve was a nod to a scene in Anchorman...but I wonder if it's just a coincidence.

Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini bonded immediately

They hadn't met properly before they were both cast in Dead to Me, but they quickly remedied that.

Applegate said: "We were in love from the get-go. People are like, do you guys really like each other? If only they knew!"