Dead Like Me (2003)

Dead Like Me is an American comedy-drama television series starring Ellen Muth and Mandy Patinkin as grim reapers who reside and work in Seattle, Washington. Filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, the show was created by Bryan Fuller for the Showtime network, where it ran for two seasons in 2003 and 2004 before cancellation. Fuller left the show five episodes into the first season due to creative differences; creative direction of Dead Like Me was then taken over by executive producers John Masius and Stephen Godchaux. A direct-to-DVD movie titled Dead Like Me: Life After Death was released on February 17, 2009, with an option to restart the series.

Eighteen-year-old Georgia “George” Lass (played by Muth) is the show’s protagonist and narrator. George dies early in the pilot episode. She becomes one of the “undead”, a “grim reaper”. George soon learns that a Reaper’s job is to remove the souls of people, preferably just before they die, and escort them until they move on into their afterlife. George’s death leaves her mother (Cynthia Stevenson) and the rest of her family behind at a point when her relationships with them were on shaky ground.

The show explores the experiences of a small team of such Reapers, as well as the post-mortem changes in George and her family as they deal with George’s death.




PLOT SUMMARY

Georgia Lass is aloof and emotionally distant from her family and shies away from her life. After dropping out of college, she takes a temp job through Happy Time Temporary Services. On her lunch break during her first day, she is hit and killed by a toilet seat from the de-orbiting of the Mir space station. She is informed shortly after her death that, rather than moving on to the “great beyond”, she will become “a grim reaper” in the “External Influence” division, responsible for reaping souls of people who die in accidents (many of which are of a Rube Goldberg-style in their complexity), suicides and homicides.

Through the first season, George has trouble adjusting to her circumstances: collecting souls, while holding a day job at Happy Time. By the second season, she has mostly adjusted to her new role, though still has unresolved issues with her life and her afterlife.

George’s family is struggling to deal with her death. Her mother, Joy, is depressed, and visibly repressing it, while Clancy, her father, is having an affair. George’s sister, Reggie, acts out — stealing toilet seats from neighbors and school, and hanging them on a tree — before being sent to therapy by Joy. She clings to the belief that George visits her, but is starting to lie to cover this up. At the start of the second season, the family begins to break apart as Joy and Clancy divorce.

All of the main characters have issues with their life after death, but cope with it in different ways: Mason resorts to alcohol and drugs; Daisy puts on a veneer of perkiness; and Roxy is physically and verbally aggressive. Rube and George are more straightforward about their sadness.

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TELEVISION SUBLIMINALS

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