Dead To Me Season Two Adds Lesbian Character And Changes The Narrative

Natalie Morales as Michelle in Dead to Me
Dead to Me – Courtesy Netflix

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Dead to Me season two just dropped on Netflix with some surprising new additions, including a new lesbian love interest for miss Judy Hale. However, this new character does not make things any easier for Jen and Judy.

Judy, played by Linda Cardellini, is quite literally America’s sweetheart. She is the kindest person, unable to say no and eager to help everyone. Judy works at a nursing home teaching art classes to the elderly, and you can often catch her picking up plastic on the beach to save the seals, as she says. The sweetness exudes out of her, and it is difficult as a viewer not to want the best for her.

With Judy’s ex-fiance, Steve, out of the picture, you’d think that Jen and Judy’s lives would slowly become less complicated. Wrong! Judy soon falls for the daughter of a resident at the nursing home where she works, Michelle, played by Natalie Morales. Judy was going through her old friend Abe’s room, looking for a box he left her before he passed at the nursing home. This is when Michelle and her mother walked into the room to move Michelle’s mom in. While Judy and Michelle’s first meeting was rather awkward, Judy helped make the transition easy for Michelle and her mom, and a unique friendship was born.

Soon after, Michelle and Judy formed a very close attraction, which was surprising to many viewers as Judy had only been seen with men before. Things are hot and heavy at first until Judy finds out that Michelle still lives with her ex-girlfriend. Who is Michelle’s ex-girlfriend? None other than Detective Ana Perez, who is investigating Judy (and Jen!) for the murder of her ex-fiance, the infamous Steve Wood. Big yikes. 

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Thus, Michelle’s presence in Judy’s life only complicates things further. Judy ends up breaking off the relationship as she can see the strain between Perez and Michelle. Perez has always openly disliked Judy and never trusted her, so when she sees Judy and Michelle together, her blood clearly starts to boil. Judy and Michelle are on and off again for a while until Perez finally reveals to Michelle that she is investigating Judy for murder. Whoops. Michelle then breaks it off with Judy, and that is the end of the storyline for this season.

Obviously, where Judy goes, chaos tends to follow. Dead to Me always brings the drama! However, it is interesting to note that not once in the show is Judy and Michelle’s relationship labeled. Furthermore, up until Judy met Michelle, viewers were unaware that she is attracted to women. It is almost as if Judy’s sexuality was already known by the characters, and Judy’s relationship with Michelle was not a big deal at all. In fact, when Judy tells Jen about her new relationship, Jen reacts completely normally, as any friend would.

This is what we need to see more of! Dead to Me does a great job of incorporating a lesbian character without fetishizing or objectifying her. Judy’s bisexuality is not a plot-point — it’s just taken for granted as part of her character. By writing the show this way, Judy is given the space to thrive in a new relationship. The plot isn’t about her coming out or exploring her sexuality, it’s about her relationship. The writing also sends the message that it is not only normal to love whoever you want, but that it is also accepted.

Judy and Jen, for instance, never have a conversation where Judy explains what dating a woman means to her or her journey with an attraction to other women. Instead, Jen celebrates Judy and her new relationship (for a minute, until she finds out about Perez… but, anyway.) By not making a huge to-do about Judy’s coming out, the writers of Dead to Me instead highlight the fact that this kind human being has found someone that is very special to her. Thus, this shifts the viewer’s attention to Judy’s ability to love and desire to be happy and fulfilled in life after being surrounded by darkness.

Similarly, by shifting Judy’s narrative, viewers see her tremendously grow as a person. In season one of Dead to Me, it was clear that Judy’s life was being controlled by various toxic men. Now in her new relationship, we see Judy begin to thrive. The light is back in her eyes with a smile stretched ear to ear. Can you blame fans for being ecstatic?

At this point in time, Dead to Me has not been renewed for season three. Judy and Michelle’s relationship was left in a very rocky place. However, when the show gets renewed, fans will get to see Judy continue to grow. Perez ended the show by not only helping Jen but also helping Judy too. This leaves that relationship strain in a good place, with opportunity for Judy and Michelle to rekindle their spark, and Judy to regain her happiness again. Here’s to hoping for a season three!