Dear Edward: tragedy, grief, hope, life

Colin O'Brien and Taylor Schilling in Dear Edward

Dear Edward could not be more timely. It’s about the shared grief experience of a group of people brought together by a tragedy. We are a nation overrun with grief – from COVID, from gun violence, from police violence, from the violent writhing of an overheated planet. We share in that in much the same way the characters in this series do.

Dear Edward looks at the aftermath of a passenger jet crash. There was only one survivor. A 12 year old boy named Edward (Colin O’Brien). The flight originated in New York. A group of New Yorkers came together in a support group in a church basement to process the loss of their friends and family.

Edward went to live with his Aunt Lacey (Taylor Schilling) and Uncle John (Carter Hudson). His mother, father, and older brother all died on the plane. Lacey was already grieving three miscarriages, one very recent, when she lost a sister and gained a troubled child.

The series was created for TV by Jason Katims based on a book by Ann Napolitano. The ten episodes of the series tell many characters’ stories simultaneously. Most of the characters are well drawn and defined with excellent actors. Before I get into other characters, I want to talk about the situation around Edward.


Edward imagined his brother Jordan (Maxwell Jenkins) was still there and talked things over with him. The tough little wanna-be roller derby queen next door, Shay (Eva Ariel Binder), connected with Edward. He slept on her bedroom floor most nights, telling her “Good night, stupid,” as he had his brother.

Edward was a brilliant kid and a piano prodigy. Lacey and John could not home school him as his parents had, so they put him in public school. He had a hard time adjusting.

A strange girl – Mahira (Jenna Qureshi) – found him in a grocery store and gave him a shrunken head and a hug. He and Shay figured out who she was and began secret trips into Manhattan to learn more about her.

Edward latched on to people – Shay, Mahira – in an effort to replace his brother. He received letters from all over the world, which Lacey and John hid from him. Some were kind, some were hateful. Lacey didn’t think he was ready to see them.

Other Characters

I’ll give you a brief description of some of the people in the support group. Each was nicely developed in the series.

Connie Britton and Audrey Corsa in Dear Edward

Dee Dee (Connie Britton) lost her husband on the plane. Her daughter Zoe (Audrey Corsa) was a student at Barnard. They thought they were rich, but discovered their husband and father had lost all their money and been living a double life in L.A.

Adriana (Anna Uzele) lost her grandmother on the plane. Her grandmother had been a Congresswoman from Harlem for 30 years. Adriana decided to run for her seat.

Adriana got involved with Kojo (Idris Debrand) who had come from Ghana to collect his niece Becks (Khloe Bruno). Her mother was on the plane. Kojo and Becks ended up living in Adriana’s home for a while.

Linda (Amy Forsyth) was pregnant and broke with no family support when she lost her boyfriend on the plane. She went to live at Lacey’s house.

Amanda (Brittany S. Hall) had been engaged to a man named Brant. His brother Steve (Ivan Shaw) attended the support group, too. These two had issues. Sam (Dario Ladani Sanchez) was married to a woman and had a child, but one of the male passengers on the plane had been his first love.

There were more characters and a complex web of interactions between all of them. The benefit to the story of so many characters was that each of them worked through their grief in different ways. Each of them found a reason to go on, a sense of hope. Humans are resilient, but it takes effort.

We all know there’s a pattern to the stages of grief. In the larger sense of a grieving nation, a grieving world, we all seem stuck at the anger stage. It’s too bad the whole planet can’t snuggle up in a circle of support, talk through the pain, and find a way to help everyone move on.

The Dear Edward poster features Connie Britton, Taylor Schilling and Colin O'Brien

It’s ironic how over exposed this poster is, because the series itself is darkly lit and often difficult to see. All ten episodes are now available on Apple TV+. Only three of the ten episodes were directed by women: Allison Liddi-Brown and Nisha Ganatra.

Overall, the series was very well done, touching, and ultimately redemptive.

2 thoughts on “Dear Edward: tragedy, grief, hope, life”

  1. We really enjoyed “Dear Edward” since it is so well written and directed. I like that you outlined so many of the characters in your review as well. There are many characters that you get attached to. I found this to be true of my other favorite Jason Katims shows “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood.” Fine acting from all involved.

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