“I see dead people” is a line you simply cannot use without a certain amount of wink. But Hulu’s upcoming Darby and the Dead is a little more Buffy the Vampire Slayer + Dead Like Me than The Sixth Sense. Darby Harper (Riele Downs) has an unwelcome ability (seeing dead people and helping them on) but has to suffer through hell (high school) instead of just handling this job she didn’t ask for.
And then a dead cheerleader makes it all even worse.
After suffering a near-death experience as a young girl, Darby Harper (Downs) gains the ability to see dead people. As a result, she becomes introverted and closed off from her high school friends, preferring to spend time counseling lonely spirits who have unfinished business on earth. But all that changes when Capri (Cravalho), the queen of the school’s most exclusive clique, unexpectedly dies in an unfortunate hair straightening accident, resulting in the apparent cancellation of her upcoming “Sweet 17.” However, Capri pleads with Darby from the other side to intervene and convince Capri’s friends to go ahead with the party as planned. To appease the wrath of the undead diva, Darby must emerge from her self-imposed exile and reinvent herself – along the way, allowing her to find new joy back in the land of the living.
Downs is enjoyably dead-end, and there’s a lot in this pop culture blender – a spoonful of Bring It On, a dash of She’s All That (or something with a popularity makeover) to go along with the supernatural tales it initially nods to. And Auli’i Cravalho – best known as the voice of Moana – clearly enjoys playing an undead pain in the ass.
Director Silas Howard has largely worked in television before this (his resume includes episodes of Dickinson and the new Quantum Leap); screenplay by Becca Greene (Good Vibes) from a story by Wenonah Wilms.
Darby and the Dead begins haunting Hulu on December 2nd.