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Not Dead Yet: The Show About Obituaries

Not Dead Yet is a creative show that normalizes reflecting on death by following the life of an obituary writer that talks to the deceased.
How Not Dead Yet is Normalizing Death Care
How Not Dead Yet is Normalizing Death Care

It’s hard to deal with death in a light hearted yet heartfelt way, but that’s exactly what the show Not Dead Yet is able to do. Each episode includes a new obituary and a new life lesson for the main character, Nell Serrano, a journalist turned obit writer. Every episode is also an opportunity to normalize death care and how we reflect on death.

How Death Impacts the Life of the Main Character

Nell is a single 37-year-old professional who is trying to relaunch her life after everything falls apart. She’s back in New York at the newspaper she used to work for, but there’s one big difference. The only opening they had for Nell was writing obituaries

Soon after receiving her first assignment, Nell discovers she has a co-writer – the deceased. After a birthday get-together goes sideways, Nell begins seeing the man she is writing an obituary for. She’s understandably freaked out, but eventually gives in to the insightful ghost with a lot of life experience. 

Nell is able to see the deceased for who they truly were and what they valued most in life. All of the advice that she receives becomes part of the story behind the obituary. But what the deceased people share with Nell has a huge impact for her in surprising ways. Like falling for a guy and walking the entire night around the city talking to him only to discover he’s her next obit assignment. 

It’s a very interesting take on the whole “hindsight is 20/20” concept. Because who’s better to give advice about regrets and living life to the fullest than someone who just died? 

The Actors That Bring Not Dead Yet to Life

Gina Rodriguez does a fantastic job playing Nell as she enters a new phase of life where she’s actually taken a few steps backward. Rodriguez has created a wonderfully round character that doesn’t have it together but is determined to make progress, even if it means writing obituaries for a living. She’s an imperfect character that’s perfectly likable. 

There’s a cast of much more put together work friends that have moved up the journalism ladder and are unaware of her newfound capability but are helping Nell sort her life out. These characters give the show the typical sitcom feel that keeps the show from going too dark when the topical matter gets serious, which is bound to happen with any show about death.

There’s also a fantastic guest cast of the deceased, which changes each episode. The guest star lineup includes Rhea Perlman, Ed Begley Jr., Mo Collins playing a pushy motivational speaker and Brittany Snow as an influencer who was also Nell’s high school bully. 

Not Dead Yet is Helping Normalize Death Care

Obituaries are just one aspect of death care, but it’s an aspect that most people are familiar with. They used to be public announcements stating the death occurred and giving basic information about the deceased, their descendants and the funeral. Over the years that changed somewhat.

Today digital obituaries are more common than an in-print obit, but they are still just as meaningful for loved ones. In some ways they are more personal because it is less of an announcement and more of an account. Obituaries provide a quick look at a person’s life and the legacy they leave behind. It’s a last remembrance and maybe the only information that’s ever put in print about the person.  

Not Dead Yet allows viewers to really examine obituaries as a way to share the deceased’s life story. In doing so, the show normalizes the act of remembrance and encourages people to truly connect with others while they’re living. 

Season 2 of Not Dead Yet recently began airing on ABC. We’ll see if Nell can get her life together before more obituaries hit her desk.