Episodes six and seven connect to questions posed by Victoria O’Donnell in Guidelines for tv criticism, based on conflict and how the characters deal with it. Also how Judy’s facial expressions are what really shows viewers how she feels in certain situations when Jen brings up the hit and run.
How does conflict play out?
In episode six, Oh My God there is a new element added to Ted’s hit and run case ever since Judy started dating the detective Nick that she met at the support group. Nick offers to help Jen by visiting the site where Ted was hit and taking a deeper look into what happened that day because Jen tells him the cops in Laguna Beach aren’t as helpful as they should be. Judy finds out that the person who found Ted that night was one of Henry’s classmates, Shandy and she is only nine years old. This news triggers Judy into talking to Shandy about what she saw that night, in which she describes was a scary scene. Judy feels guilty that a nine-year-old had to witness that but is also relieved that so far that has found no evidence of her car being there. Conflict in Dead to Me is really centered around the entire plot of Ted’s murder but the way they deal with it has sort of comedic relief.
In episode seven, I Can Handel It more drama is added when Shandy relives that she found a headlight where Ted ran over, which Jen then hands to the police. Judy tells Steve that the police might be on to them so they dismantle the car and get rid of it, although it is revealed at the end of the episode that they police figured out the car was a 1966 Mustang and can trace it back to the original owner. Jen uses anger to deal with conflict, Judy justifies her actions by not dealing with her issues and Henrey and Charlie both start to lash out in certain scenes that I go over later in this post. Throughout both of these episodes, the characters are seen going through their own personal issues surrounding the newfound details about Ted’s death and how Judy hides her secret but still lets viewers know by her facial expression when she thinks Jen is onto her.
Are there elements of older stories that are retold in the narrative?
Throughout both episodes six and seven, the older stories told in the current narrative are when Judy has flashbacks to the night she and Steve hit Ted. At the beginning of the episode, six after Nick says that any useable evidence is long gone, Judy has a flashback to her and Steve putting the car (evidence) into a storage unit labeled number 23.
This is important to note because later in the next episode Judy goes to the same storage unit and the car is gone. It’s later relieved that Steve took the car to his mothers house and it taking it apart to put the pieces in dumpsters in Mexico. Later in the episode, an older story of Shandy finding the headlight is revealed. After Judy talked to Shandy, she realized she still had a piece of evidence she didn’t give to the police so she and her mm drop it off at Jens’s house. This is crucial because the make and model of the car are finally known, which panics Judy.
In the episode, Seven Judy has another flashback to when Steve got her the car and how happy she was about it because they had to get rid of the car it was showing that now Judy hates that car more than anything. So far every episode of Dead to Me has had elements of older stories, which are always flashbacks of Judy and Steve hitting Ted that night to show the audience what exactly happened, like how even though Judy was driving Steve is the one who pressured her to drive off.
What ordinary personal issues and attributes are recognized?
In these two episodes, it’s relieved how each character is going through their own personal issues with Ted’s death and it was interesting to see how Jen’s kids were handling their father’s deaths. Jen’s older son Charlie gets caught at school dealing drugs which we later find out those drugs were Ted’s. Jen doesn’t know how to discipline because that was Ted’s job so she uses a scare tactic where she has Nick pretends to arrest him in which he finds that Charlie has a gun. I think Charlie deals with his dad’s death by acting out in school and at home because he doesn’t know what else to do with his built-up anger, which is similar to how Jen acts.
Jens’s younger son Henry is seen more as the angle child compared to Charlie, but during his school singing concert, he becomes aggravated and screams at all his classmates to do better in front of all their parents. Jen is surprised by this but later is told by a teacher that Henry has had similar issues in the past, which are due to the death of his father. It’s hard for Jen to help her kids with this death when she deals with it through anger but I think Henry lashing out and Charlie selling drugs made her realize a change needs to happen.
Do the actors express their feelings through facial expressions? Can you observe what the character is feeling but not saying in the subtexts of facial expressions and physical movements? Does sound reinforce subtext?
Judy’s character is notorious for doing this because she has to hide the fact that she killed Ted, but sometimes when Jen says something to scare her she gets nervous, and the camera points at her uneasy facial expression. In episode six Jen is explaining to Judy that she is scared for Charlie because she thinks that if this continues one day the drugs he is selling could kill someone and she expresses how dumb Charlie is for doing that. She says she would feel bad for the family and that it would ruin his life. The viewers know that Judy can relate to this and seeing her facial expression makes her look guilty and upset.
This happens again in the next episode when Jen is telling Judy that they found the car that hit Ted. Judy is making breakfast and starts aggressively spreading butter on a bagel trying to hide the fact like she is about to freak out.
She also has a nervous look on her face and is asking Jen questions like: Well what if the person got rid of the car? To where Jen responds with that would look very guilty. After Jen leaves the kitchen Judy is shown throwing up in the sick multiple times implying that she is sick to her stomach with nerves and guilt, because she might be caught.