We have already put together lists about the Best Movies About Death and Dying (twice!) We also put together the Top Documentaries About Death. Now we are here to recommend to you 10 Death Positive TV Series for you to stream right now!
Death and grief are complex experiences, and are unique to each individual. They are also at the core of many television series that have been released over the past several years. Most of us have heard of the iconic show Six Feet Under, and it has clearly inspired more shows to tackle the subject of death, grief, and relationships in creative and complex ways.
So without further ado please enjoy our recommendations for 10 death positive TV series to stream now!
10 Death Positive TV Series to Stream Now
1. The Good Place
The Good Place is an American comedy that is set in an afterlife where all humans are either sent to “The Good Place” or “The Bad Place” after they die. Everyone is assigned a numerical score based on their morality in life. The show has been celebrated for its exploration of morality, philosophy, and questions around what it means to be a good person.
The main plot centers around Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) who dies and finds herself in “The Good Place” run by Michael (Ted Danson.) This afterlife is a highly selective Heaven-like utopia designed by Michael, and co-run by an artificial intelligence named Janet. However, Eleanor, an amoral loner in life, quickly realizes she was sent there by mistake and must hide her morally imperfect behaviour. The series originally aired from September 19, 2016 to January 30, 2020 on NBC.
You can stream it now on Netflix.
Forever is another comedy that focuses on the afterlife. The show premiered on September 14, 2018 on Amazon Video, and only lasted one season. It explores the question: What if marriage actually lasted forever? Would it be what you expected?
This American comedy-drama series stars Fred Armisen, as Oscar Hoffman, and Maya Rudolph, as his wife June Hoffman. The series begins with the couple living an ordinary suburban life, but when June convinces her husband Fred to shake things up a bit with some adventure, a series of unfortunate events finds them both dead, but still married, in a suburban afterlife.
You can stream it on Amazon Prime
3. After Life
A Netflix Original, After Life is a British black comedy-drama series created, produced, directed and starring Ricky Gervais. It premiered on Netflix on March 8, 2019.
Gervais plays Tony, a man who had a perfect life up until his wife Lisa died. Tony is drastically transformed by his grief. After contemplating taking his own life, he decides he would rather live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes. This turns out to be trickier than he planned when his friends and family try to save the nice guy that they used to know.
You can stream it now on Netflix.
4. The Leftovers
The Leftovers is an American supernatural mystery drama that originally aired on HBO in 2014. It is another show that tackles the afterlife, but never shows us what the afterlife could be. Instead it focuses on the people who are left behind after the death of 2% of the world’s population.
The series starts three years after a global event called the Sudden Departure—an inexplicable, simultaneous disappearance of 140 million people on October 14, 2011. The lives of police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), his family, along with grieving widow Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) and her brother, reverend Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston), are the focal points of the series.
Critics lauded the series as taking a deep dive into the existential questions on life and death we all wrestle with, and that have not simple or clear answers.
Canadians can stream it on Crave, or purchase it through YouTube.
5. The Russian Doll
The Russian Doll is another critically acclaimed Netflix original series. This comedy-drama features Nastasha Lyonne as Nadia, a young woman who is the guest of honor at a party in New York City. At the end of the night she dies, only to wake up the next day unharmed to discover she is caught in a loop where she has to repeatedly attend the same party, dying at the end of each night only to wake up again unharmed and do it all again.
The story tackles issues of grief avoidance and death denial in a creative way that is both entertaining and a kick to the gut. Nadia is messy, and she is relatable in her misadventures, and eventual self realization. In addition to starring in the series, Lyonne also co-created the series with Amy Poehler and serves as a writer and director for the original series.
You can stream it now one Netflix.
6. Dead to Me
Netflix is on a roll with death positive original content. This time it is a dark comedy that explores the weirdly funny sides of grief, loss and forgiveness. Starring television veterans Christina Applegate (Jen) and Linda Cardellini (Judy).
The plot follows Jen, who is mourning her husband after he was killed by a hit-and-run driver, while Judy grieves for her fiancé, who died of a heart attack. The two meet in a therapy group for spousal loss and quickly form a close bond despite their differences. Jen’s loss leads her to a dark place where she struggles with her grief, while Judy faces her grief with a more positive attitude. Judy also harbours a dark secret that causes a disturbing plot twist.
The creator of the series, Liz Feldman, recently wrote in Glamour how she was inspired by her own experience with grief, and the struggles of trying to get pregnant. This grounds the shows exploration of grief in reality, as Feldman point out:
“The story, though not autobiographical, is deeply personal. The facts are made up. The feelings are real.”
You can stream it now on Netflix.
Fleabag is a British comedy-drama created, written, and starring the deeply talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge. It primered on 21 July 2016 and concluded its second and final series on 8 April 2019. The show follows a dry-witted woman, who we only know as Fleabag, as she navigates her life after the suicide of her best friend, while also still trying to cope with the death of her mother.
Her character is angry and grief-ridden, and rejects any help that is offered to her. Her messiness and avoidance is similar to Nadia in The Russian Doll, making her relatable to the audience. The show also employs the breaking of the fourth wall, an ability only given to Fleabag herself, giving the audience a doorway into her inner thoughts. We get to see her deflect, reject, confront, and struggle with all the thoughts and emotions that bombard her in her grief.
You can stream the Amazon Original here.
8. Sorry For Your Loss
This is another show that tackles grief. This time it explores becoming a young widow. Sorry for Your Loss is an American drama that lasted for two seasons on Facebook Watch. You read that correctly—you can watch this show for free on Facebook. It premiered on September 18, 2018, and released its final episode on November 19, 2019.
The show is about a young woman, Leigh, played by Elizabeth Olson, whose life has been upended after the sudden death of her husband. The people around her become uncomfortable with her grief and want her to move on, but she is not the same person and realizes that everything is different. The show has been lauded by critics as an authentic take on how messy grief can be.
You can stream it now on Facebook Watch.
9. This Is Us
This Is Us premiered on NBC on September 20, 2016 and is currently in its fourth season. This multi-award winning drama series tells the story of Jack and Rebecca Pearson, and their three children Kevin, Kate and Randall. The show jumps through time, and weaves a realistic take on how grief work can be a long term challenge for many of us.
It stars an ensemble cast featuring Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, and Justin Hartley. Created originally for NBC by Dan Fogelman the show can now be streamed online over Netflix or Amazon Prime.
In Canada you can stream it now on Netflix
In the US you can rent it on Amazon Prime.
10. HBO Autopsy
If you are more interested in the science around death and decomposition, then this HBO documentary series is for you! HBO Autopsy is the oldest show on this list, originally premiering back in 1994, with the last season released in 2008.
The series features Dr. Michael Baden, a real-life forensic pathologist, who has been personally involved in many of the cases that are reviewed. Each episode features new cases, with the “Detective of Death” walking you through forensic evidence.
Episodes include a variety of cases from the unknown to the infamous including a boy scout leader with unhatched maggot eggs in his corpse, to the Angel of Death serial killer Donald Harvey. Some episodes even revisit historical murders such as JFK, and the Romanov Family.
You can stream it now on Crave. Americans can stream it on HBO Go.
Bonus Update: Never Have I Ever
From the brilliant comedic mind of Mindy Kaling, Netflix’s new series, Never Have I Ever, is part teen comedy, part meditation on grief: how we avoid it, and how we ultimately have to face it. The main character, Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), just lost her father and instead of grieving she attempts to micromanage every aspect of her own life, and the lives of those around her.
It is authentic, and shows that “avoiding grief is a futile effort, because it still creeps up and swallows us.”
You can stream it now on Netflix.
Conclusion: 10 Death Positive TV Series to Stream Now
There is something very raw and relatable in watching characters grapple with death and grief in all its messiness and difficulty. These shows, and others like them, showcase the wildly divergent ways we avoid, wrestle, and eventually confront our fear and pain in death and dying—just like real people.
We hope you enjoyed our list, and will consider adding some of these shows to your future viewing. Did we miss any? Please let us know in the comments below!
I would as the series Dead Like Me. Older but a really, really well made series.
Great recommendations. I would add the following TV shows that I enjoyed:
1. I Know This Much Is True
2. Six feet Under
A great movie also called The farewell.
The Big C is absolutely amazing! It’s a dramedy with wit and heart. It’ll have you in stitches and rip your heart out. Laura Linney stars as Cathy, a woman with terminal cancer, Oliver Platt as her husband,Gabriel Brasso as their son, John Benjamin Hickey as Cathy’s brother and Gabourey Sidibe as a family friend who lives with them. All the acting is phenomenal!
Showtime’s Kidding starring Jim Carrey is a good one.
The Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode The Body – amazing view on immediate effects of grief
Such a powerful episode!
Alternate Endings: Six new ways to die in America
How to die in Oregon
The Nurse with the purple hair.