Gina Rodriguez Brings Us to the Light With Bright, New ABC Comedy

Feb 2, 2023

Following the success of Miracle Workers, The Good Place, and most recently CBS taking the crown for its number one sitcom, Ghosts, it seems like the afterlife is continuing its haunting foray into the primetime landscape. But while we might never understand our current cultural preoccupation with the subject, ABC is getting in on the joys and hilarity of immortality with multi-award-winning actress Gina Rodriguez in their newest sitcom, Not Dead Yet. The single-camera comedy, written with heart and charm alongside some very natural, funny performances is already looking to be one of 2023’s brightest spots on TV this season.

Created by Casey Johnson and David Windsor — the writers of This Is Us and Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23 and produced by McG, Not Dead Yet follows down-on-her-luck, Nell Serrano (Rodriguez), who is a newly single, self-described disaster looking to return to her journalism job. Believing she is a failure after leaving behind a promising, 15-year career for a man and moving to London with hopes of having that fairytale wedding, things took a turn when the two broke up and the relationship dropkicked her in the face. The good news is that her weird roommate, Edward (Rick Glassman) is extremely laid back, though he’s very passive-aggressive, wanting everything a very specific way, and needs her to walk his shy dog, Arthur.

Image via ABC

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Using bathing suit bottoms for fresh undies and trying her best to stay hydrated with a nightly hard seltzer, Nell lands the only gig she can get to kickstart her career ambitions back into high gear: writing obituaries in what is a total “ew” closet. While writing these cut-and-dry obits, Nell can suddenly, and for no reason provided just yet, see all the dead people she is writing about starting with her first assignment, a musician (Martin Mull) known for his bubble gum jingle. It’s this gift (feeling quite similar to a fellow TV journalist in Sam Arondekar on Ghosts) that helps her understand the deceased so that they can move on, while also helping her get back on track with life advice she never knew she needed.

It’s in this first assignment she receives from her boss, Dennis (Josh Banday) that she is warned to not judge these individuals she has to write about because “everyone has a story, it’s [her] job to find it.” While she believes writing about dead people is starting to mess with her head, the enterprising journalist leans on her best friend and co-worker, Sam (Hannah Simone) who is her greatest confidant, and a very busy mom helping her navigate the waters in their newsroom now that out-of-touch, nepo baby Lexi (Lauren Ash) is running the newspaper they all work at.

Loosely based on the 2020 novel Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up by bestselling author Alexander Potter, the single-camera comedy deviates from its literary counterpart with very evident differences that might confuse fans of the book at first, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. As the seeing-dead-people part might feel off-brand for Potter’s readers, the rest of the series, for the most part, stays close to the source material. Similar to the book, Nell befriends Cricket (Angela Gibbs), a widow whose husband Nell gets to know on a very paranormal level. However, where the book sets their friendship up as a strong dynamic for the story, the series creates it more as an accent to Nell’s return to her real self amid a time she’s feeling really disconnected from everyone.

Image via ABC

Considering some of the very poignant conversations that take place in Not Dead Yet alongside some very funny moments, the show effectively blends strong elements of drama alongside some very refreshing comical components that are charming and feel extremely relatable to audiences. This is in large part due to very strong, warm, and witty writing with a style that has been unseen in other network sitcoms thanks to the chemistry of its charismatic ensemble, leading with Rodriguez. After showing off her comedy chops for five seasons on The CW’s Jane the Virgin, the Golden Globes winner is at the top of her game with this series as her timing has always been her greatest asset in enchanting an audience. Acting as a smart and funny springboard to the response of her co-stars and the circumstances her character Nell finds herself in, Rodriguez truly shines with a bubbly effervescence. Add into the mix her co-stars, Simone, Glassman, Banday, and Ash, and you’ve got a sparkling ensemble that is both complementary to her performance and extremely fun to watch. There is a profound realism to each character as they, just like Nell, are trying to get by in their own ways. Even the self-obsessed nepo baby just wants to make her father proud, while getting along with the team as best she can.

Even though the series takes a bit of warming up and a good while before we understand the rhythm of the show and its characters, Not Dead Yet is promising thanks to strong writing, performances, and a diverse cast that brings incredible joy to every scene they are in. While the show feels as if we came into the middle of a conversation in how we don’t get answers as to why she can see ghosts all of a sudden, it might allude to the sheer fact that she is somewhat detached from herself and lost faith in who she is. Nonetheless, the half-hour sitcom is still a very real laugh-out-loud series to help you unwind once you get over the hump. Our advice is to stick to it if you’re looking for something different on TV — it is a pleasant surprise where you will laugh one minute and cry the next a la This Is Us. The joy of Not Dead Yet also stems from how every episode adds another layer to Nell’s life through her obituary writing while further learning more about her pain in those quiet moments. It’s this very device that plays beautifully to the show’s message of how we affect each another amid some very stark realities tied to the greater complexities of our existence.

After reviewing what was shared with the press, the show has the right combination of comedy and heartfelt humor to be a series that really stands out across primetime and eventually be everything network comedy wants to be similar to Abbott Elementary. With these very elements making Not Dead Yet supremely entertaining and affecting, the spunky new comedy with a heart will be your new favorite series this year and is a solid entry into the genre’s 2023 season.

Rating: B

Not Dead Yet kicks off with a two-episode series premiere beginning Wednesday, February 8 at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC. The series airs in its regular time slot on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. EST after Abbott Elementary.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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