In the third episode of the first season of Dead Like Me, George finds herself unable to cope with the fact that she can no longer visit her family. So she does it. And it’s bad. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Dead Like Me.
God, everyone who ever told me I’d love a Bryan Fuller show was right. THEY WERE SO RIGHT.
- Incidentally, that wasn’t until I’d started doing Mark Watches. The same goes for Tamora Pierce. I’d never heard of Bryan Fuller’s shows until people began recommending them to me. But quite a few of you have lovingly shrieked at me to watch Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies, and NOW I AM STARTING TO UNDERSTAND WHY.
- The clever episode title hints at what this story explores: George’s inability to let her previous life go. That just made me curious, though. Do all reapers have to work in the very same city where they died? I imagine the temptation is half the battle for George. She has to still work in Seattle. Is that where the other reapers we see died, too?
- Anyway, this is a fine example of how a story can use characterization of supporting characters to build up the protagonist. At some point in this episode, each of the four reapers does what they can to help George on her journey towards accepting her undead life. Granted, it’s a frustrating experience because George is so stubborn. Even after being warned by Rube that she’s not to go back to her house, she does it anyway. Well, not just that, but her second visit is about a billion times worse than the first one. WHAT ARE YOU DOING, GEORGE?
- (Sidenote: I have typed “Georgia” four times in a row in this review because I’m so used to writing it for my Newsflesh reviews. GODDAMN IT.)
- It’s during George’s first visit to her house that “Curious George” establishes the importance of the physical nature of our world and how much we, as humans, rely on physicality just to subsist day-to-day. George’s preoccupation with the knick knacks in her home is a sign that she misses more than just the company of her family. She misses things. She misses the environment. She misses the smell of her mother and the smell of herself. She could just steal or buy new clothes, but she chooses to go home to retrieve her own stuff, suggesting that she’s seeking out comfort in the familiar.
- Of course, she misjudges the effect this will have on others since she doesn’t know the full impact of her mother’s and Reggie’s grieving. Reggie is in denial. Extremely so. Joy is desperate to put her sadness behind her, so in a sense, she’s in denial, too. And what we get is these two women butting heads constantly because neither one wants to see each other on the same level. Mostly? It makes me really, really sad. They’re both in so much pain, but they’re masking their hurt with stubbornness and anger.
- I mentioned in the last review that George’s new “life” is drenched in irony, and nothing is more evident of that than her work at Happy Time. Again, George is desperate for any sort of connection to her new existence, yet she’s stuck in a soulless job with a group of people who are absurd and disconnected. God, I know it may seem weird to some of you, but the depiction of corporate culture we see in “Curious George” really isn’t that far off from reality. It’s not! Like, I have a story for almost every glimpse we get during that montage of the Happy Time office, from the gross misogyny to the strange people who can’t stop staring to the tiny rebellions to office parties. Oh my god, there are few things more socially heinous than office parties. They’re the worst 99% of the time! (I was lucky that the last company I worked for before I made Mark Does Stuff full time was full of hilarious, creative people, because our office parties were never a disaster. God, I miss those people sometimes.)
- It’s this sort of aimless environment that draws George back to her house. And when the people around George find out she’s having a hard time, it’s fascinating to see how they deal with it. In a sense, you can get an idea of how each of these characters treats a person overwhelmed by grief. Betty comforts George to an extent, ultimately turning down a chance to get close to her, which represents how self-centered she is. And that’s how I read Betty! I like her a lot, and she’s funny, but she keeps to herself most of the time. She seems blissfully uninterested in what other people are doing.
- Mason… well, he just awkwardly flirts with George, and then tries to rack up a lot of souls and money at the same time. He’s not very good at comforting anyone.
- Rube initially is not comforting at all. He’s vicious, he’s angry, and he’s almost vindictive. Granted, he has reason to be! He’s been wonderful with George through this journey (which has last just over a week), and she keeps testing his patience. We can’t forget that she just skipped an appointment in the last episode. (Glad that we have confirmation that souls are marred by whatever happened to the physical body after death.) So he gives her an ultimatum: Don’t go back to the house, or she’ll have to face his wrath. However, when she comes to him after having done so and immediately tells him she messed up, he’s extremely sympathetic. He doesn’t berate her, he doesn’t goad her into feeling worse, and he makes her feel better. It’s like he did this on purpose so that she could learn the hard way, knowing the lesson would stick.
- But Roxy… my god, Roxy. Easily my favorite character specifically because of one moment in “Curious George.” When she picks George up outside George’s old house, she does not say a single word to her. Instead, Roxy allows George to have an incredibly vulnerable moment in her vehicle. She lets George cry, and she caresses her, most likely because she knows what George is going through. It’s the first time in this episode that someone gives George the sympathy she needs, and I love Roxy for that.
- I also noticed that each of the four reapers touches George at some point, again highlighting the importance of the physical.
- So, I’m curious what’s going to happen with Reggie. Reggie’s denial already had her trying to contact George, but I’m pretty sure George’s visits are only going to enable Reggie’s behavior even further. God, I hope this doesn’t get worse for that little girl. I already feel bad enough for her.
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Mark Links Stuff
– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
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