Dear Edward turns a plane crash into a dumpster fire [Apple TV+ recap]


In a scene from Apple TV+ drama ★☆☆☆☆
Young Eddie is a piano prodigy, among other things. If only Dear Edward had a genius in the writers' room.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewNew Apple TV+ series Dear Edward is a sprawling ensemble piece about the aftermath of a plane crash. This baffling bit of overwrought drama cannot decide for longer than a few scenes what it’s actually about — or why it needs a season (or more) of TV to tell stories we’ve already heard in the most overwrought terms possible.

The series, which premieres today, misfires on just about every front. This show about grief seems to itself be in the throes of a panic attack.

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Dear Edward recap: First 3 episodes

Season 1, episodes 1, 2 and 3: As Dear Edward starts, a plane to Los Angeles is crashing and young Edward’s (played by Colin O’Brien) life is flashing before our eyes. Same goes for a few other passengers, including his family, but (spoiler alert) he’s the only one who’s going to survive the crash. So that all matters less.

Eddie, as his family called him, was a piano genius and a child prodigy and all the other stuff that gets you pulled out of school so your screenwriter parents (Brian d’Arcy James and Robin Tunney) can raise you properly. After the crash, he starts seeing the ghost of his brother, Jordan (Maxwell Jenkins), which would freak out his new foster parents (Taylor Schilling and Carter Hudson) if they found out.

Eddie would rather get together with neighborhood girl Shay (Eva Ariel Binder) than go to therapy or eat, which also doesn’t help his new parents much. Nor does the spooky girl (Jenna Qureshi) who keeps giving Eddie cryptic gifts at random intervals on the street or in stores and stuff.

So many people, picking up lost pieces

What about the rest of the people grieving relatives lost in the plane crash? Well, they have their own journeys. There’s Adriana (Anna Uzele), whose grandmother was a congresswoman, and who worked under the elder politician. With her grandmother and boss out of the picture, maybe it’s time to do something else … that is until someone else tries to run for grandma’s seat. Suddenly, Adriana’s out in the street getting signatures necessary to run instead.

Then there’s Ghanian entrepreneur Kojo (Idris Debrand), who now must raise his niece, Becks (Khloe Bruno), after her mother died in the accident. Kojo meets Adriana at a support group. And between his knowledge of plumbing and her knowledge of tenants’ rights, they soon become close friends helping each other get along in their new existences.

Linda (Amy Forsyth), who lost the father of her unborn child, goes to tell his wealthy parents (Margaret Reed and Brian J. Carter). They want to help right away, which she balks at. After all, she loves her life being completely broke and living with roommates in New York with no family. Why would she take the helping hand of her wonderful boyfriend’s loving parents?

There’s also socialite Dee Dee (Connie Britton) and her daughter Zoe (Audrey Corsa). Dee Dee’s husband and Zoe’s father, Charlie (Ted Koch) died in the crash. Now Dee Dee must sort through his debt — and the lies he told while he was alive. She finds, for instance, what she thinks of as evidence that her husband was cheating on her in Los Angeles with a woman named Noelle (Hannah Jane McMurray). But when Dee Dee goes to confront Noelle, she finds her with her baby and husband (Jeremy Gram Weaver), both friends of Charlie’s before he perished.

And let’s not forget about the crack-smoking park ranger (Joe Tippett) who found Edward in the crash. What uhhh … what’s going on with that? Why’d we meet him?

Dear Edward … !!!, Sincerely, Overemphasis

A therapy circle for survivors in a scene from Apple TV+ drama "Dear Edward."
There’s more than enough grief to go around in Dear Edward.
Photo: Apple TV+

Boy oh boy… Where to start. I never read the book by Ann Napolitano that Dear Edward is based on, but I struggle to believe it was this laborious, though heaven knows it wouldn’t be the first New York Times Best Seller to be so demonstrative yet clueless about human behavior.

Plus, I don’t really get why you’d make this into a miniseries when it doesn’t even have enough plot for a 90-minute movie. The movie Fearless did all of this better in the ’90s, back when movies could still breathe between scenes, and yet it covered all this ground in a less-histrionic and obvious fashion.

The show piles so much on top of the simplest crises, when the mere idea of surviving a plane crash is already plot enough. No, Eddie’s got to also be seeing the ghost of his brother, navigating a crush on a girl obsessed with roller derby, giving his aunt a hard time after her failure to have her own children, and being plagued by a girl who keeps giving him macabre little tokens and clues. Oh, and, if you’ll remember, he’s also a piano genius.

No child actor could possibly navigate all this coherently. So asking one to do is already way too much to foist on a novice like Colin O’Brien. And why? Is grief not enough? He has to be in the middle of like six supernatural conspiracies or whatever?

A sea of implausibility

And then there are all the little implausibilities. Because Dear Edward, for some reason, needs to constantly hedge about Jordan’s ghost in the first two episodes (though his being dead is made explicit right away), Edward isn’t seen to understand that Jordan is dead until midway through episode 2 when the spooky girl tells him about it in the bread aisle. Then he sees Jordan’s ghost moonwalk out of the grocery store.

You’re telling me this kid made it weeks after the crash without someone saying the words “your whole family is dead,” or noticing no one else was talking to Jordan? He’s the world’s most famous person for a week. How could he possibly have avoided hearing that?

Making things worse at every turn is that Dear Edward has to be the most overwritten show I’ve ever seen. Every line in the pilot is to make sure even the most dunderheaded audience members know who everyone is and what’s happening.

“Madame congresswoman … you’re a goddamn icon!”

“This is our last falafel before we leave New York!”

“Our doctor is worried about the number of …” “Miscarriages?! You can say the word!”

“I’m quitting my job and I’m quitting politics!”

Before the plane goes down, Eddie and his family speak exclusively in declarative sentences. “You’re my mother and you didn’t tell me?” “He’s my son!” “This is my family!” “She’s their mother!”

It’s a neverending string of overstated and annoying tripe.

Can you belive any of this?

Dee Dee (played by Connie Britton, left) and Audrey Corsa
Dee Dee (played by Connie Britton, left) and her daughter Zoe (Audrey Corsa) try to pick up the unbelievable pieces.
Photo: Apple TV+

At one point, someone explains to Dee Dee about those places you go to break things for a few bucks an hour, and she goes from hilariously misunderstanding it (she thinks it’s a sex club) to guessing exactly what it is in the same sentence. “What do you mean break things? Like you go and knock the shit outta stuff?!” she says.

Do you or don’t you get it?

In episode two, a nurse (Rich Kiamco) makes this statement to Edward during his checkup: “It was God. God saved you.” It’s such an odd thing to say to a little kid whose family just died right in front of him. God took care of that one, too? (I should complain that he’s not doing a very good job as a nurse overall. But Edward is never seen with bandages over his flamboyantly discolored wounds, so it’s not like anyone else in his life is doing much better as a caregiver.)

Then again, nobody really seems to know anything or react at all compassionately or rationally to anything that happens in Dear Edward. Episode one introduces the fact that Edward’s parents started homeschooling him after he got bullied in second grade. But for some reason, they also pulled big brother Jordan out of school and homeschooled him, too. In New York. Sure, makes sense. What writer doesn’t want more distractions in their apartment?

Later, when Jordan tells Eddie he’s going to public school, the little genius freaks out. “Nice job being led around by your dick!” Eddie says. That’s how 9 year olds talk these days, right?


The Kojo/Adriana stuff is ridiculously convenient, but I’ll forgive it because it’s still the most plausible and good-natured part of the show. The same can’t be said of the Linda and Dee Dee storylines. Linda freaking out when two nice, rich people offer to house her ahead of her giving birth makes zero sense. She has no money and can’t afford her tiny apartment, and yet she acts like leaving New York is going to be the worst thing anyone’s ever experienced. Then she calls Dee Dee and talks about how “alone” she feels.

Yeah, if only she had people reaching out to offer her shelter and money and food and help.

Dee Dee’s storyline consists of one preposterously hamfisted rich-lady cliche after another. She freaks out at a day laborer when she sees that the tree shading Charlie’s grave has been cut down … after she told the cemetery officials that the tree was dying. What did she expect? Then she learns that Charlie quit his job a year earlier and was in debt, and had a house in Los Angeles, which naturally leads her to suspect he was having an affair. But then she discovers he wasn’t philandering he was secretly … volunteering? At an LGBTQ charity? She screams and wails that Charlie was a Republican who said “the gays,” not some kind of hippie ally.

Now … yeah, I also would be incredulous if someone told me my husband was secretly volunteering, because the thing about that is there’s a record and a paper trail and it’s in public and if you’re some big shot New York Republican millionaire ghoul or whatever, you don’t hide your charity work, you hide literally everything else. This makes absolutely no sense. Patently. On no planet.

Why? Why go to the effort of moving to another city and buying an apartment to volunteer?! You could volunteer anywhere. Also maybe just stop pretending to be a Republican? What do you lose? Why pretend to your wife that …

I have a headache.


Watch Dear Edward on Apple TV+

The first three episodes of Dear Edward arrive this Friday on Apple TV+.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at


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