When my son lived in the hospital for six months, my wife and I would switch off days. We’d go weeks sometimes where we only saw each other for 90 seconds in the parking lot as we were switching off. It meant that every other night, I’d sleep in my son’s hospital room, and on the other night, I’d sleep in my bed at home alone. But I weirdly looked forward to that because while I spent the 47 other hours in between that one hour trying to distract myself from what was actually going on in front of me, I’d use that one hour before bed to process it and to think about my kid. I was terrified of losing him, and I still am, but for that hour or so, I thought about him, and I reflected on all the memories I had with him, and it hurt, but it was a good hurt. I felt close to my son, sometimes in ways that I couldn’t feel when I was with him because for so much of that time, he was withdrawn or not himself or pumped full of drugs, and when he was himself it was almost too much because that’s what I was so desperately afraid of losing. So for that hour every other day, I could wallow in it, feel the feels, so I didn’t feel them the next day when I was back at the hospital, because it was a long haul and he needed a dad to take care of him and distract him and tell stupid stories and not break down in front of him.
But like I said, I loved that hour, and watching Dear Edward reminds me a lot of that feeling, like it hurts, but it’s a good hurt, a hurt I don’t want to go away. There aren’t a lot of shows that have elicited the same feelings in me: The Leftovers, the first season of Six Feet Under, those really good episodes of Friday Night Lights, and a few episodes of Trying. It’s grief and warmth and bittersweetness, like the last hug you give someone after you break up, the one that’s hard to let go because it means that it’s over and even though it probably needed to end, there are still a lot of nice memories that you’ll miss, and that hug is how you acknowledge it, and then letting go and giving each other one last weepy snotty kiss really means it’s over. And that’s what Dear Edward feels like — that last embrace, where you try to hang on to every last detail because you know it will be the last.
I’m not saying much about what Dear Edward is about, and that’s because a description of the series doesn’t do it justice. Colin O’Brien plays Edward, who is the only person who survives an airplane crash. He’s just a kid, and he’s an important character, but there are a number of other characters who lost people they loved in the same crash, and some of them meet each other during a group meeting for survivors. Taylor Schilling is in it — Edward lives with her, his aunt, because the rest of his family (and her sister) died in the crash. Connie Britton plays a woman who learns that her husband was living another life in Los Angeles as a gay man; the brother and the fiance of the same recovering addict who died meet each other in the meeting; and Amy Forsyth from CODA plays a young woman pregnant with the baby of her boyfriend who died on the plane, and she just needs a family to help her through the experience and she finds that family in this group of survivors. Anna Uzele lost her grandmother, who was a longtime Congresswoman in Harlem. She decides to run for her seat but she also meets and maybe falls in love with a man from Ghana who is watching after his dead sister’s child before they return to Ghana. Joe Tippett also appears in a few episodes, and in real life, he’s married to Sara Bareilles, and watching Dear Edward sometimes feels like listening to her song “Uncharted” on headphones while riding a bike down a hill on a nice summer day.
But mostly, Dear Edward — adapted from the Ann Napolitano novel of the same name by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) — is about people who lost loved ones and who end up looking to each other for support and how that support is sometimes messy and sad but also comforting and loving, and it’s all just a tender and warmhearted series that is cathartic to watch and maybe that’s all it really needs to be. I love it, and I know it’s not for everyone, but if that sounds like your kind of thing, it’s available on Apple TV+.