"Never rule out anything." Linda Cardellini on Dead to Me's biggest twists and fan theories.


Just a warning that this article contains spoilers for seasons one and two of Dead to Me. 

If Linda Cardellini has learned one thing from her role on the hit Netflix show Dead to Me it’s that she would be a terrible murderer.

“Oh God no, I couldn’t do the cover-up because my face always gives me away,” she told Mamamia with a laugh. “My face always tells the truth and it’s the main thing Judy and I have in common. But unlike Judy, I have way too much anxiety. I would give myself up so quickly.”

Season two of Dead to Me, which has been aptly labeled a ‘traumedy’, follows Linda’s Judy Hale and Christina Applegate’s Jen Harding as they deal with the cover-up of Judy’s ex-fiancé Steve Wood’s death, and the arrival of his semi-identical twin brother Ben (both played by James Marsden).

A storyline that’s as anxiety-inducing as it is hilarious.

The 44-year-old actress first rose to prominence in 1999 via the cult teen drama Freaks and Geeks and went on to star in movies such as Legally BlondeBrokeback Mountain, the Avengers franchise and The Curse of La Llorona while also keeping one foot firmly planted in the world of TV with roles in Mad Men and Bloodline. 

Listen to Linda Cardellini and Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik talk all things Dead to Me on The Spill. 

Despite a packed work schedule, Linda said yes to Dead to Me without really knowing what the show would become. This was partly because she wanted to continue a working relationship with producer Jessica Elbaum but mainly due to Judy’s big reveal in season one that she killed Jen’s husband.


Without that secret to play on this time around, she admits she was nervous about how season two would unfold for Judy.

“The thing that was really different for me this time around is that the whole first season was about Judy having a secret, first from the audience and then from Jen,” Linda explained to Mamamia. 

“So once that secret was exposed at the end of season one I really wondered what would be next for Judy because I’d been able to play this delicious secret the whole first season.  So this time going into it I was thinking ‘Oh God, what am I going to do?’ then (showrunner and creator) Liz Feldman came up with more than I could ever imagine.”

One of the new additions to the cast was Natalie Morales as Judy’s new love interest Michelle, a character introduced by Liz Feldman because she thought it was important to have a same-sex relationship play out on screen the way a straight relationship would. Without having to explain why two people were attracted to each other.

However, before fans get too invested in the love story of Judy and Michelle, it’s important to note that Linda sadly doesn’t believe there is a happily ever after in their future.

“When Judy meets Michelle, she breathes a new life into her,” Linda said. “For a moment you get to see this bit of levity and lightness in Judy, it’s a look at what her life could be like if she wasn’t tied down in so much trauma and murder.

“The sad thing about Judy is that when something good comes along, relationship-wise, it just doesn’t last long for her. She’s still really mourning the toxic relationship she had with Steve. She can’t ever be herself.”

"When Judy meets Michelle, she breathes a new life into her," Linda said. Source: Netflix.


Fans of Dead to Me, however, will always know the true relationship of the series is the one between Jen and Judy. Despite the fact that Christina and Linda had never met before they both signed on to do the series, behind-the-scenes they've built up a relationship that's just as close as their on-screen counterparts, just with a little less murder.


"The reveal scene in the garage in season two was especially challenging for both of us," Linda said, referencing the scene where Judy learns the truth about Steve's death. "And we have to stay in it because you’re working that same scene for hours.

"Those scenes just ring every bit of emotion out of us every single time but Christina and I have this relationship where we can laugh together, cry together and scream together. She brings out the best in me.

"I’ve been able to have a career full of fun and interesting characters but I think that these characters, in particular, are very well drawn from the female perspective, rather than the male gaze, there’s a voice that comes through here that feels fresh."

An interesting story plant from season two was the reveal of Christina Applegate's former Married… With Children co-star Katey Sagal as Judy's imprisoned mother Eleanor. A scene that was included in order to finally give fans a glimpse into Judy's real backstory.

"Judy seems to be sort of floating in this universe so that you don’t really understand where she was before she came into contact with Steve," Linda explained.

"With Katey Sagal, I just love her acting and the idea that she and Christina were already connected was really wonderful. It’s like an extended family.

"We included this scene so you’d see what Judy could be like as a person, but she was born much more warm-hearted. They are both survivalists and can live off the dime if they have too. When Judy looks at her mother and sees how selfish she really is, that’s a huge moment for her.


"In my own opinion, her mother never loved her the way she needed to be loved."

“Christina and I have this relationship where we can laugh together and scream together. She brings out the best in me.” Source: Netflix.

Dead to Me has not only been a critical and viewer success, but it has also spawned an immense online fandom who are dedicated to playing detective and looking for hidden clues within the show.

"I try not to do too much digging because when I first got into the business someone told me to never read reviews," Linda said, in reference to the online fandom. "Because the good ones are never good enough and the bad ones you will never forget. I really took that to heart. 


"The fans of the show are so passionate, it makes it even more fun, especially for a show that’s coming out during this time."

When asked about the most popular fan theory circulating after season two, that Steve is alive and just pretending to be Ben, Linda, after a long pause, said she didn't have a specific answer to the question but unlike some other plot twists, it's not totally off the table.

"You can never rule out anything, which is so delicious as an actor," she said. " But I haven’t seen it going that way, from what I know. 

"I do know that they’re hard at work looking at where the story will go next. Liz will layout where the story is going for me, but only if I ask.

"For me the best twist this season was actually the storyline with Detective Perez (Diana-Maria Riva) when she shows up after my night with Michelle and what you then find out about her childhood. It somehow just makes the whole story make sense."

With season three of Dead to Me already in talks to go ahead, it's only a matter of time until we see how Linda's predictions pan out.

Seasons one and two of Dead to Me are available to watch now on Netflix. 

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