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Gina Rodriguez Charms in ABC TV Comedy

The Pitch: Nell (Gina Rodriguez) could be doing better, after blowing up her life to follow her now-ex-boyfriend to England, and returning home in shame: While she’s managed to return to her chosen field of journalism, she’s been relegated to the obituary beat at the paper she once worked for. But, on the plus side, she’s somehow gotten a big advantage when it comes to writing about the recently deceased: As soon as she gets a new assignment, the dead person in question starts to haunt her until their obituary’s complete.

Yep, She Sees Dead People: Honestly, after the success of CBS’s Ghosts last year, it’s surprising that there aren’t more broadcast comedies dabbling in the afterlife this season. Not Dead Yet, though, very quickly finds its own take on the subject matter, because as anchored by Rodriguez, the series brings with it a very light touch, even while delving into what can be one of humanity’s darkest and heaviest topics.

Anchored in Nell’s journey from complete post-breakup train wreck to… well, marginally more stable adult, the show quickly falls into a “dead person of the week” structure, where of course each episode’s ghost is meant to help shine a light on the issues plaguing Nell — as the title makes it clear, she might be constantly talking to dead people, but she’s still got some living ahead of her. It’s a format which lends itself to both episodic and serialized storytelling quite nicely; a premise that you could see lasting years.

About the Living: While the series structure is set up to bring in solid guest stars with each episode (those appearing as obituary subjects include Martin Mull, Ed Begley Jr., Mo Collins, Rhea Pearlman, and Brittany Snow), like all ideally long-lived comedies a lot of its potential may be determined by the supporting cast, which contains some solid players who have yet to really firm up their personalities as individual characters.

That is, with the exception of Lauren Ash as Nell’s boss Lexi. Ash was previously a serial scene stealer as Dina on the recently concluded Superstore, and once again throws herself head-first into creating an equally intense yet totally different persona. Her work as a crafter of character should be studied by science, it’s that good.

Rick Glassman, as Nell’s neurodivergent roommate, also does a lot to make sure his character isn’t solely defined by his austism. Meanwhile, Hannah Simone, as Nell’s best friend/colleague Sam, falls too hard into best friend tropes without her own stories, but her chemistry with Rodriguez is solid. Angela Gibbs, as the owner of a local wine bar Nell befriends, also has promise — like the rest of the supporting cast, these two likely just need more time to gel.

Not Dead Yet (ABC)

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