I recently went through the the entire series of Dead Like Me, including the movie. (You’ll notice that general sentence a lot, which tells you what I do all day.)
Dead Like Me is a dark comedy following Georgia Lass, an unambitious eighteen-year-old who rarely smiles and is going nowhere in life. In the first episode, George dies. More specifically she is hit by a space debris–a toilet seat–that fell from a Russian space station. You may wonder where the show can go when the main character dies, but though Lost executives turned down this idea for Jack Shepherd, this is a situation where the death was necessary, as it introduces us to the mythology of the show. Instead of moving on to an after life, George is relegated to the undead role of Grim Reaper. Her job is to collect the souls of people right before they die so that they do not feel any pain when the death occurs and then guide the soul into the afterlife.
George is slowly but surely trained in the ways of a Reaper by a merry band of reapers:
Rubin, the father of the family who doles out post it notes with the time and place where the reaping will be
Roxy, the tough mother figure with a fiery temper who works as a meter maid (later a police officer)
Mason, the teenage rebel who goofs off and has a weakness for sex, drugs, alcohol, and law breaking
Betty, the spirited wild-child who disappears midway through the first season
Daisy, the devious starlet who likes to scheme to make money with minimum effort
And the rules are for the most part well-established in this show (excluding the movie, which seems to decide it can ignore all of the rules for no good reason). George slowly but surely learns the rules and the consequences of their job, though that doesn’t keep her from fighting her position as a Reaper wherever she can.
There’s a catch to being a Reaper though. Two actually. The first- No paycheck. Hardly seems fair, but there it is. So everything they get is either taken from the dead or earned through side jobs, which is how George ends up at Happy Time, a temp agency where she worked for a single day before her death. As a reaper, George appears different to the world and goes by the name Millie. The second- you don’t actually know who you are going to reap, you need to figure it out yourself. The post its only provide the first initial and last name, which has led to complications on more than one occasion.
Meanwhile, George’s family has to deal with the loss. George’s inept mother, emotionally confused father, and STRANGE sister all grieve in their own ways. (I say strange because what other way is there to describe a girl who steals toilet seats and lies to the neighbors saying her mother won’t let her go to the bathroom?) Though Georgia can never come home and reveal herself to her family (there are rules and consequences preventing that) George still looks in on the family she cared little about during her first life. She occasionally leaves small tokens of comfort for the family she can’t be a part of and tries to take pieces back with her whenever she can.
Part of the show’s charm is that it is so different than anything out there and it didn’t run for long enough to “jump the shark” (though the movie managed to do that all on its own). The writers are creative, developing not just a unique lifestyle but also unique phrases that make the plotline feel all encompassing. Everything but the movie are posted on hulu and if you’re looking for something to watch, this is definitely a good option. The most unfortunate thing about the show is it got canceled before we could learn everything there was to know about this world and before we could see George finish growing up and move on.
Own the complete series: Dead Like Me: The Complete Collection