Weekly review of the new Elizabeth Olsen show about grief on Facebook Watch.
The first four episodes of “Sorry for Your Loss” debuted this week on Facebook Watch, and we’re looking at episodes three and four today. The half-hour dramedy focuses on Leigh, a young widow whose husband, Matt, died three months before the show’s action begins. Her network of family and friends includes her mom, Amy, her sister, Jules, and Matt’s brother, Danny. The action shifts frequently between the present day and flashbacks to points throughout Leigh and Matt’s relationship.
Episode three, titled “Jackie O. and Courtney Love,” puts the spotlight on Leigh’s anger in the wake of Matt’s death. “I’m just mad all the time,” she says, and that anger is starting to catch up with her as she lashes out without thinking, hurting her loved ones and strangers alike.
One of the people who bears the brunt of Leigh’s anger is Becca, a newbie to grief group who, like Leigh, is a young widow. From our first glimpse of her, Becca is everything Leigh isn’t. She’s meticulously put together; she’s bubbly and kind and outgoing; she’s prettily grieving her perfect marriage to a soldier who died a hero.
(Related: Coping With Loss)
Becca is new in town, and she’s thrilled to meet Leigh at grief group. As two young widows, she’s sure they’re going to be the best of friends, and she eagerly reaches out to Leigh. Leigh keeps Becca at arm’s length, later making fun of her enthusiasm. But Becca keeps pushing, oblivious to the way she rubs Leigh wrong.
Leigh is so determined to dislike Becca that her anger spirals out of control, hurting Becca and raging out of control to hurt others as well. But when she’s finally able to look at how she’s been behaving and have a rational conversation about it, Leigh realizes she’s not as different from Becca as she thinks.
There’s more to this episode than just anger. It’s also all about the ways we pretend to be something other than what we are. This is a theme of the episode’s flashbacks, with Matt even expressly saying, “We all pretend, all the time.”
That might be something as simple as pretending to be happy with a second-choice job, or something as profound as pretending to be someone entirely different from who you are. And maybe it also extends to shielding a wounded heart by constructing an angry exterior, like Leigh does.
(Related: Grief Changes You)
Leigh has been trying, since the end of episode one, to figure out the passcode to Matt’s cell phone. She’s run through every four-number combination she can think of that might have enough relevance to Matt for him to have chosen it. The more she tries and fails, the more she worries that it’s a sign something was deeply wrong in their relationship that she didn’t know this most basic thing about her husband.
In episode four, “Visitor,” Leigh finally has a breakthrough and discovers Matt’s passcode. To do so, she has to take a deep dive into the early days of their relationship, prompted by a chance encounter with a stray dog.
When Leigh rescues an incredibly cute Boston terrier from the middle of a busy street, she gains a temporary companion who’s able to provide some comfort to her grieving soul in a way that people can’t do. But the appearance of the stray also sends Leigh back through her memories of Matt’s dog and makes her remember, in flashback, the ways it shaped their relationship.
Rogue is a wary, skittish dog; as Matt describes Rogue, “She doesn’t really like when people get too close too fast.” Sound like any humans we know? Leigh and the dog eventually find their way to loving each other, and her connection with the dog helps her better understand Matt. Rogue brings them closer, but also becomes the basis for an ongoing point of contention between Leigh and Matt about medications for depression and anxiety.
Leigh has read about how over-medicated American society is, and she scoffs when she finds out Rogue is on “doggie Prozac.” But when Matt reveals that he’s medicated for depression too, and that his diagnosis and meds essentially saved his life, Leigh has to challenge the assumptions she’s gained from reading clever op-eds.
When, at the end of the episode, Danny points Leigh to the date that became Matt’s passcode, she is able to unlock his phone — and there ends the episode, leaving us with a cliffhanger. If you’ve been binge-watching the first four episodes like we have, you are probably frustrated! We’ll find out what was on Matt’s phone next Tuesday, when episodes five and six are released — we hope.
Will we also find out another key mystery of the show? We’re four episodes in, and we don’t yet know how Matt died. We barely even have any clues. We saw a brief scene that appeared to be a police officer bringing Matt’s personal effects to Leigh. We know Matt was depressed, though we have no other indications that his death may have been due to suicide. All Leigh has actually said about it was when she told Becca that Matt “died for nothing.”
It’s fascinating to me that this very basic fact hasn’t been revealed, and it can’t be anything but deliberate. Maybe the lesson to be learned is that however Matt died, whether it was due to an accident or suicide or even murder, the hole he leaves behind is huge. In some ways, it certainly matters how he died, but not when it comes to grief. We feel ripped apart by grief, no matter what took our loved ones from us.