Jane the Virgin was one of the first shows that got me into becoming a hardcore TV watcher. From reading the Entertainment Weekly coverage to being a part of the underground club of the show’s vocal fanbase, it led me down a cultural path. Most of that stemmed from Gina Rodriguez’s performance. The way she was able to be grounded amidst the knowingly pulpy plotlines created a backbone to the narrative. After some other projects, she returned to television last season with ABC’s Not Dead Yet. As great as Rodriguez is, she can’t save a show that should probably go ahead and die.
The premise remains from the first season: Rodriguez plays a struggling journalist put in charge of writing obituaries at the local paper. Unfortunately, the job also comes with the task of dealing with the ghosts of those she’s writing about. On paper, a silly concept. In practice, a show that feels like it was created through AI.
It’s unfortunate as I enjoy the cast. Brad Garrett appears this season as Lexi’s father, a business magnate who has no self-awareness whatsoever. Lauren Ash, who plays Lexi, and Brad Garrett aren’t garish enough to join the upper echelon of insufferably self absorbed characters (Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock), yet aren’t down-to-earth enough to have a humorous relatability. What they’re given to work with is just not enough. (i.e. Lexi being called “Karen” in a joke battle. It’s just…there. No bite.)
The ghost figures come in and out to pester and annoy Rodriguez throughout each episode, usually working to help teach her a life lesson. Yet, they feel superfluous. Most lessons could’ve been “learned” without their presence. They instead get to deliver some ChatGPT-adjacent comedy that never lands.
As we slowly make our way out of the Peak TV age, where everything had a glimmer of prestige behind it, maybe it’s good to return to middling television that fills a space in a schedule. Not Dead Yet isn’t necessarily bad, it just exists. Maybe it’s a show made for syndication: its forgettable qualities will allow it to shine for viewers watching daily. They’ll never have to worry if they’ve seen an episode prior, since they are all kind of the same anyway.
Not Dead Yet premieres Wednesday, February 7th at 830pm ET on ABC and streams the next day on Hulu.