Death. It’s a topic that many of us shy away from. Maybe we think if we talk about it, it will happen to us sooner than it otherwise would. Maybe it conjures up sad memories of loved ones who passed — or depression or anxiety.
There are several ways to look at death, though. Different religions offer their own interpretations of what happens when you die. Then there are those who believe in reincarnation. Others believe in ghosts or spirits. For some, there is no such thing as hell or heaven. Maybe there’s a white light. Maybe there are pearly white gates. Maybe, and this is potentially the most frightening, there is nothing.
With practically endless points of view on the topic, TV show writers have had a field day. There is an astounding number of shows that deal with death (what happens when you die, how it affects those you leave behind, etc.). And perhaps unsurprisingly, they tend to be very popular. As much as talking about death might be unsettling, exploring the idea of it seems to be something many of us are interested in.
6. The Ghost Whisperer
Here we have Melinda Gordon (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt) who can talk to the dead. They seek her out to send a message to a loved one or to get help finishing a task. Their guilt keeps them stuck on Earth until she can assist in their process of moving on. When their business is finished and they find peace, they are able to cross over.
5. Dead Like Me
When Georgia Lass (Ellen Muth) died at a young age she became a grim reaper — much to her surprise! In the world of Dead Like Me, some people simply move on, while others are given jobs. Hers was to take the souls of people who were destined to die. She didn’t have to wear the big scary black cape or carry a scythe, but the simple act of touching people to free their bodies of their souls sometimes proved too emotionally trying for her.
While this show doesn’t deal with the afterlife, it certainly deals with a lot of death. Dexter Morgan (played by Michael C. Hall) is a forensic blood splatter technician. He also happens to be a serial killer. But he’s a serial killer with a mission that some of us can get behind: he only kills people who have literally gotten away with murder. And he knows what to do about blood splatter to boot.
3. Pushing Daisies
Ned (Lee Pace) discovers at a tender young age that if he touches a dead body, he can bring it back to life. Unfortunately, if he touches it again, the body dies again — but forever this time around. When his childhood sweetheart Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel) dies, he happily brings her back to the world of the living. But as the two fall in love (and attempt to solve mysteries together using his unique talents), they face the unfortunate problem of never being able to touch, as it would result in Chuck’s permanent death.
2. The Good Place
Currently a hit show on television, The Good Place deals directly with the afterlife. Eleanor (Kristen Bell) was a pretty crummy person when she was alive. So when she dies and finds herself in “the good place,” which is essentially the secular version of heaven, she’s pretty surprised. But then she meets others who perhaps don’t quite fit in, only to learn that there is far more to this afterlife than she initially realized. Ted Danson plays the architect of the good place, and he’s simply a delight to watch.
1. Russian Doll
If you haven’t caught this new show on Netflix, stream it immediately. Natasha Lyonne stars as Nadia (she also wrote and produced the show). She is a sarcastic New York City pessimist who happens to die on the night of her 36th birthday. But the next thing she knows, she’s alive and well, back at her birthday party. But then she dies again. And again. And again. She realizes that she must get to the root of why she keeps dying and figures out that the way she had been living was perhaps not serving her well. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day, but with death. And it’s increasingly well done.