‘Not Dead Yet’ Season 1 Recap Before Season 2


You know when a show’s narration begins with the words “When I was a little girl…” it’s going to strike a chord for at least a few of us sad humans out here. Not Dead Yet is a soap opera released in 2023 starring Gina Rodriguez in the lead role of Nell Serrano, a 37-year-old woman who has just left her long-term boyfriend of 5 years, essentially at the altar. Nell’s just returned to the US after 5 years in London and has to start afresh in life. I suppose you could call it Nell 2.0. The comedy essentially puts out very basic platitudes in the form of fun, engaging stories with new characters introduced every episode. Nell’s new chapter has a new twist, though; it’s gone from romantic comedy to psychological horror. The reason for this is that her new job at the old office is to write obituaries (very cutely shortened to obits). Now, you must be thinking, What’s so psych-horror about that? Well, she starts to see these dead people, and each of these people gives her life advice and helps her deal with her sadness. I’m not sure what liking this show says about me, but I will not shy away from telling people to watch it as a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day.

Spoiler Alert

What Happens in Season 1?

Nell’s new journey begins when she returns to California from her old job and continues to believe her life is still a massive disaster. Her new cubicle is a back closet; she’s got to write obituaries, and her best friend Sam is now also best friends with their ex-enemy, the boss Lexi. She’s also sharing a tiny house with her new roommate Edward, who happens to be on the autism spectrum, so he’s especially straightforward and organized, the complete opposite of Nell’s more disorganized self. When Nell begins her new job of obituary writing, she suddenly realizes that she’s not alone (a perfect opportunity for an “I see dead people” moment). While Nell’s struggling to readjust, she makes a new friend, Cricket, who happens to be the wife of the first guy she wrote an obituary for- Monty.  While at first Not Dead Yet comes across as a basic old soap opera that doesn’t carry much weight emotionally and banks solely on Gina Rodriguez and her supporting cast’s comic presence, it slowly turns into something that is both relatable and inspiring for those feeling lost and uprooted. I suppose the show has inadvertently become a sort of comfort for the likes of me (sigh).

Not Dead Yet proves that soaps have still got it, and as the show progresses, it gets especially entertaining, and we really fall in love with each of these fantastic characters. Sam and Dennis are Nell’s best friends at work; they do everything in their power to help Nell feel “alive” again. At the same time, the new people in her life, like Edward and Cricket, teach her how to be more open-minded, look out for herself, and specifically let go of the old for the new.

What Does Nell Think of Her “Gift”?

Well, at first, Nell absolutely despises the fact that she can see dead people. Just because I joke about having Casper by my side when I’m all alone doesn’t mean I’d like a bunch of dead people giving me life advice—or maybe that would be fun. Nell soon discovers so much about herself when she’s talking to these ghosts (both at home and in public with earphones in, at least for the most part). While Nell learns to appreciate her new “quirk,” she also has one big problem: how does one tell their friends that they can see dead people? As if we don’t have enough reason to call women crazy, amirite? Nell holds back for most of the season, never sharing with anybody, not even Sam, her newfound “talent,” so to speak. Of course, this becomes quite burdensome for her, and Nell realizes that apart from this new thing, she hasn’t told Sam about why she left Philip, her ex of 5 years, either. Additionally, Nell’s new friend Cricket is basically her first ghost friend’s wife, so whenever Cricket speaks about her dear dead husband, she can’t help but feel pained for not telling her that she’s still communicating with him. It’s only at the end of the first season of Not Dead Yet that Monty’s ashes are spread, and he leaves Nell’s side. Still, Nell is obstinate about not sharing this one thing with anyone she knows.

Why does Philip return to California?

Nell slowly starts to find her groove back home and finds the courage to tell Sam that she had a miscarriage and Philip wasn’t there for her when she needed him the most, which is why she left him. However, with the fantastic timing that men have, Philip shows up again in Nell’s life, apologizing for his mistake and asking to get back with her. Nell does realize that with the way she left the guy one night before the wedding with no information and cut all contact with him, she needs to apologize too. Nell takes her time, apologizes, and decides to give them another chance. This is when she stops seeing the dead people (yikes). Although Nell probably has it in the back of her mind that she isn’t her authentic self around Philip, it is Edward who paints a clearer picture for her. Not Dead Yet places an emphasis on the fact that your quirks are what make you truly loveable. I suppose, in theory, we’ve all got the answers, but sometimes we’ve got to see it in the simplest form of storytelling to actually believe it (although you should tell someone if you see dead people, I joke).

When Nell’s father comes to visit, she’s so worried about disappointing him because she isn’t living the perfect life she imagined for herself. She’s told him all these lies, but he notices that she isn’t living the perfect life he had envisioned for her. All Nell needed was to hear from him that he was proud of her for picking herself back up. It’s her friends, her found family, whom she trusts, who she can be vulnerable around and be fully honest with, not Philip, so by the end of the series, Nell decides to say goodbye to her love once and for all. It’s Edward who tells Nell that she’s completely different with Philip around—a half-self. He speaks about how Nell used to talk to herself when she was stressed and completely stopped when Philip came around (aww). He then proceeds to give her a comforting hug, almost an impossible gesture for Edward, giving Nell the confidence to begin anew yet again. The second she says goodbye to Philip, Nell starts to see the ghosts again (yay!).

Now, Nell may not be the perfectly well-adjusted adult that everyone dreams of being, but she’s got many inspiring stories to tell, and she connects with people with her heartfelt obits. At the end of the day, Nell doesn’t have to pretend to be someone she’s not with all her friends, not even Lexi (especially not Lexi). By the end of season 1, everyone on the show is embarking on their own new journeys. Sam finally learns to speak up to Lexi and not hide her feelings just because she’s her boss. She also teaches Lexi that spoiling her child is not the only way she can be connected to her daughter and that she needs to teach her to be a good human too. Dennis plans on adopting two kids instead of one and learning that there’s no better time than now to seize the day (sorry, it just felt like the right thing to say). While, for the most part, we see that Nell’s the one receiving the help, at the end of the first season, we realize that Nell’s been helping everyone too!

Now, the first person Nell told her secret to was Philip, the guy who laughed at her for telling him such a joke. Will this stop Nell from telling Cricket about her time with Monty? On the other hand, Edward seems to have become extremely fond of Nell, and we can see a new romance blooming there! Will he act on it? We will learn in season 2 of Not Dead Yet, premiering on February 8, 2024.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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