If you’ve been watching the new Netflix show Dead To Me, you’ll already be a Christina Applegate fan.
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Jen and Judy
Christina is the show’s star and plays the snarky Jen. Jen has just lost her husband in a hit and run accident, and is now trying to balance her need for closure – aka finding who hit him – with her own mental health, an even more snarky mother-in-law, all while raising two kids.
Jen meets a younger woman named Judy (played by Linda Cardellini) while attending a grief counselling group, and the show follows their friendship as they both come to terms with their losses.
It’s a big shift from the series we got to know Christina on – Married With Children – and it’s now been revealed her influence on Dead To Me has been monumental.
Christina told USA Today that when she first read the Dead To Me script, “it wasn’t clear to me sometimes why Jen was so angry and broken. There had to be some underlying reason,” she said. Thus, in episode four of the show, Jen reveals to Judy that she had a preventative double mastectomy after her mother died of breast cancer.
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“I have the gene,” Jen tells Judy. “I didn’t want my kids to lose their mom like I did mine.”
Drawing on real life
In real life, Christina herself had more than the gene. In 2008, Christina was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. She realised Dead To Me was an opportunity to share this experience, honour other women who had endured the same surgery and recovery, and raise awareness more broadly.
“It hasn’t really been discussed on shows before; I don’t think there’s a lot of characters out there with double mastectomies,” told USA Today.
“But I went through it, and it’s a horribly painful process – emotionally, spiritually, physically – and I never really talked about it. I thought this was my chance to tell a little bit about me, but also all the women that have gone through that.”
“I’m going to be OK”
Christina says that undergoing a mastectomy still impacts her life every day.
“I think about it every day. Girls who go through this, we say to each other, ‘Yep, it’s been 10 years,’ but you’re never not aware that that’s something you’ve been through. Everything looks different. You have to shower and you’re like, ‘Oh, there they are. That happened.’ ”
Speaking on her Dead To Me character’s double mastectomy, Christina hopes that the portrayal will help other women feel less isolated.
“I don’t know what anyone’s going to take away from that moment or scene, except for ‘Wow, I felt that way, too, and I’m going to be OK.’ Because you will. It’s OK to admit that you feel that way.”