Dead to Me Season 1 Recap: Everything to Know Before Starting Season 2
Dead to Me is returning for a second season on May 8, and you know what that means: Jen Harding and Judy Hale have more secrets to keep. In fact, the second season of Dead to Me is even twistier than the first but just as poignant regarding themes of forgiveness, friendship, and grief.
Dead to Me picks up immediately after the finale's stunning cliffhanger, which found Steve, Judy's ex-boyfriend, dead in Jen's pool. Jen spent Dead to Me Season 1 grappling with the loss of her husband. Now, it's Judy's turn.
Judy killed Ted, in a hit-and-run.
This is the most important thing to remember from season 1 because it's the tragic accident that brings the now-friends together. Jen and Judy first meet in a grief support group and become fast friends. Judy gives Jen an outlet from her stressful life as a mother of two sons, who are now struggling with the loss of their dad (a struggle that continues into season 2, of course).
However, Judy is keeping a major secret: Judy is the one who killed Jen's husband, Ted, in a hit-and-run.
Jen learns the truth in the finale.
Judy confesses to her involvement in Ted's death in the penultimate episode of Dead to Me's first season, severing any friendship that had blossomed between the women. In the finale, Judy stands at the same intersection where Ted died, trying to get herself hit by a car too—as if that would even the cosmic balance.
From there, things become more complicated. Steve Wood, Judy's ex-boyfriend, shows up at Jen's house and reveals another aspect to that evening. Sitting in the passenger seat, Steve encouraged Judy to drive away from Ted's body.
This conversation underlines a theme that had been running through the entire season: Steve is an abusive partner. Undermining and morally bankrupt, Steve constantly manipulates Judy and degrades her sense of self-worth. He encourages her to abandon Ted, even when she felt guilty about doing so. He's constantly cruel.
"You're not a good guy," Jen says, during their conversation.
Somehow, Steve winds up dead.
Steve drunkenly confronts Jen. Next time we see him, he's floating face-down in Jen's pool. We don't know who killed him—but we do know that it will bring Jen and Judy back together again, inevitably.
Steve was laundering money through his art gallery.
As if we needed any more reason to dislike Steve! From the start, it's clear Steve is rich. Really rich—he owns two mansions valued at $9 million, each.
Naturally, Steve made much of his fortune through illegal activity. Steve used his gallery, TKG Arts, to display Judy's paintings—and to launder money for the Greek mafia. In the finale, Judy goes to the police with all the necessary evidence and turns Steve in.
Ted was having an affair.
Ted never appears in the show, but his memory haunts Jen and their sons. After his death, Jen learns that Ted had been seeing another woman for the past year-and-a-half. This complicates her grieving process.
Lorna, Ted's mother, is a lot to handle.
Jen's mother-in-law problems have not ended. Both Lorna (Valerie Mahaffey) and Jen are realtors, but only Lorna has a heart of ice.
Still, Lorna's more vulnerable side is revealed throughout the series. Lorna reveals that she blames herself for Ted's death—she didn't answer a phone call the evening of the accident. After a brief stay with his grandma, Charlie (Sam McCarthy) also reports that she struggles with an addiction to pills.
Judy suffered through many miscarriages.
Dead to Me is a show about loss in all its forms. Judy continues to process grief over her five miscarriages. In fact, fertility issues are what caused her breakup with Steve.
"He didn’t die two months ago, but I did lose him…He broke up with me because we really wanted to have kids. And we tried and we tried for years, and…I couldn't. I just kept having miscarriages," Judy says, at a grief support group meeting.
Detective Perez almost solved the puzzle of Ted's hit-and-run.
You're probably wondering: Where's law enforcement amid all this? Detective Ana Perez, curly hair queen, is investigating Ted's hit-and-run. Just as she's getting close to solving the case, Steve dies which will certainly make her job even more complicated. How long can Judy outrun Detective Perez?