[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Not Dead Yet series premiere.]
Nell (Gina Rodriguez) is not [insert a lot of words here] yet when we meet her in the premiere of ABC’s new comedy.
Not Dead Yet picks up with Nell late for the first day back at her old job — five years ago, she threw away a promising career to move to London for a man, and now her catchy headline would read “local woman, 37, ruins own life” — but with a best friend, lifestyle editor Sam (Hannah Simone), to cover for her. Dennis (Joshua Banday) is now Nell’s boss and puts her on the “deadbeat” (obituaries) and shows her her office (a closet). Her first assignment is Monty Waxberg, whose most famous jingle is for bubble gum (one Nell hated as a kid). “Everyone has a story. It’s your job to find it,” Dennis tells her, essentially kicking off the entire series for her.
Sam and Dennis take Nell out for her birthday, and their boss Lexi (Lauren Ash), now friends with Sam, though they used to hate her, joins them. Things are going OK … until Nell calls Lexi by their old nickname for her, Scotch Tape, because she’s stuck up. Nell ends the night home alone when a guy she saw earlier pops up out of nowhere: the ghost of Monty (Martin Mull). “Don’t come any closer, I will kill you,” she warns, but as he puts it, “don’t bother, I’m already dead.” But Nell refuses to accept what’s happening — “I do not see dead people” — and, blaming it on what she ate, barricades herself in her room.
The next morning, Monty follows her around, telling her there are cockroaches in the food truck, and her Uber driver killed him (just kidding). Using her headphones means people notice her talking to seemingly no one since only she can see Monty as she tries to get him to leave before she starts yelling. And it’s because she’s busy with him that she misses a call from Sam after texting her best friend to apologize for the night before.
Off Sam’s advice, Nell goes to apologize to Lexi in her office with a box of donuts (yes, from the break room). She wasn’t at her best and promised to be more professional. It’s a half-assed apology, according to her boss, who says they have 30 seconds to tell the person what they think of them with no repercussions. Lexi tells Nell she’s a sloppy drunk and knew she didn’t want her at her party but invited herself anyway. In turn, Nell says she doesn’t think Lexi’s good enough to be friends with Sam. Then, Lexi reveals that it’s their mutual friend who convinced her to give her a break and hire her after she gave up her career to chase a guy. But if Nell doesn’t perform, she warns, she’ll be the first to go.
Later at home, Nell admits to Monty that she thought she’d just be able to pick up where she left off when she came home, but she feels disconnected from everyone because everything’s changed. Refusing to listen to more of her whining — “am I in hell?” — he insists they go out to a restaurant, where she puts her headphones in since she feels like everyone’s staring at her. Monty talks to her about moving to California and wanting to make incredible music, only to end up writing a jingle. He wanted more, so he got angry and pushed people away. It wasn’t until he started caring about what life is instead of what it should be that things changed. And then he points out his wife, Cricket (Angela Gibbs), sitting alone and wearing an ugly turquoise necklace because he bought it for her to Nell. The journalist does what he wishes he could and tells Cricket she’s beautiful before joining her for a glass of wine.
Nell also fixes things with her neurodiverse roommate, Edward (Rick Glassman); the two clash over walking his dog and her eating the box of chocolates he’d bought for his girlfriend. When she joked about having a party for her birthday, and he brought up their agreement, she asked, “what, do you have like Asperger’s or something?” to which he said he does, then he doesn’t, then he does. Later, Edward explains that it’s no longer called Asperger’s but Autism Spectrum Disorder. For him, it means he needs structure and routine, and he knows he can be difficult to live with, as he’s been told. Nell gets that, so maybe they’re a good match.
The episode ends with Nell apologizing to Sam and going out with Cricket. Plus, she writes Monty’s obituary, and Dennis likes it. And once it’s done, Monty is gone. But as soon as Nell receives her next assignment, the next ghost pops up in her office.
So what did you think of the series premiere of Not Dead Yet? Let us know in the poll below.
Not Dead Yet, Wednesdays, 9:30/8:30c, ABC