In a cruel twist of fate, Sorry For Your Loss, one of the best shows about grief to premiere in recent years, may soon be wiped from the internet entirely. Last month, Meta announced it's shuttering the Facebook Watch originals group, a move that brings the company's foray into the streaming wars to an end.
The shutdown has been a long time coming: Facebook shifted away from scripted programming in early 2020, when it canceled Sorry For Your Loss after two seasons, and in June 2022, the Facebook Watch app was discontinued on Apple TVs and other devices. But while ongoing series like Red Table Talk are being shopped elsewhere, the demise of Facebook Watch means the service's back catalog could disappear at any moment — and with that threat in mind, there's never been a better time to check out Elizabeth Olsen's poignant half-hour drama.
Released in 2018, when everyone from social media companies to quick-bite disruptors were getting into original content, Sorry For Your Loss starred Olsen as Leigh Shaw, a widow grieving the recent death of her husband, Matt (Mamoudou Athie). Early flashback scenes offered a rose-tinted look at Leigh and Matt's marriage: Matt charmed Leigh's mother, Amy (Janet McTeer), developed his own relationship with her adopted sister, Jules (Kelly Marie Tran), and served as a sounding board for her work as an advice columnist. (In this way, the Facebook Watch show played almost like a reverse-Tiny Beautiful Things.) But after an encounter with Matt's brother, Danny (Jovan Adepo), with whom she always competed for Danny's affection, Leigh began to realize that she may not have known her husband as well as she thought, complicating the already-difficult process of moving through her pain and rebuilding her life.
Olsen's role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe made her a household name, but she deserves just as much praise for her performance in the short-lived drama. While the premise was designed to guarantee a sympathetic response to Leigh's predicament, the WandaVision star ensured viewers felt more than just pity for her character by leaning into the caustic side of Leigh's persona, particularly her belief that she, as Matt's widow, had a monopoly on loss.
In the first season, Leigh never hesitated to make any situation about her own grief, whether that meant diminishing Jules' pride over maintaining her sobriety in the wake of Matt's death — "It really screwed me up, too, when my husband died" she practically spat over breakfast — or fighting with Danny about who had the "sh*ttier time" coping. And yet, even in Leigh's most self-centered and petty moments, Olsen always left viewers something small to latch onto, like an anxious glance or a barely-perceptible quivering chin, as a reminder of the many conflicting emotions bubbling underneath the surface.
These glimpses of Leigh's better self made her eventual realization that everyone in her life, widow or not, was drowning feel earned, just as her prickly edges prevented Sorry For Your Loss from becoming overly saccharine, like a certain other grief-related show. Across the drama's two seasons, creator Kit Steinkellner and Olsen, who also executive produced, precisely threaded this needle, balancing a raw look at death with small moments of lightness, such as Leigh and Jules' many jabs at Amy's munchy-crunchy belief system. "Everything I have accomplished in my life is a result of believing that I can create my own reality," Amy told her daughters as she explained the difference between "vision boards" and "soul collages." Leigh's response? "You've got to stop being a parody of yourself."
Sorry For Your Loss Season 2 shifted focus from Leigh's journey and embraced a more traditional family drama structure. Storylines about Jules questioning her place in the Shaw family, Amy's sexual entanglement with her ex-husband (Don McManus), and Danny and Leigh's budding romance gave the supporting characters new depth, enabling the show to explore the ripple effects of Matt's death in fascinating ways. In doing so, Steinkellner reinforced the idea that grieving is not a competition, as Leigh's behavior in the opening episodes suggested, but a communal experience.
Of course, there's nothing new about this it-takes-a-village mentality, but the series avoided clichés by denying the audience easy answers. Notably, the matter of Matt's death remained unresolved: He died while hiking, but the show never revealed whether he was involved in an accident, or if he died by suicide. The creative team could have easily turned this into a mystery for Leigh to solve, but instead, it became yet another reminder of the many unknowns in life and death.
Sorry For Your Loss also went to great lengths to shape Matt into a three-dimensional character. (Interestingly, this differentiates the show from Olsen's latest project, Love & Death, which turns murder victim Betty Gore, played by Lily Rabe, into a "caricature," as Primetimer's Mark Blankenship wrote in his review.) Flashbacks revealed not just that Matt's depression worsened in the weeks before his death, but that he was an English teacher who was passionate about his students, dreamed of becoming a comic book artist, and fretted about the contentious relationship between his wife and brother. Athie's careful work in these flashbacks, which were used sparingly and never wasted, brought life to a character who cast a long shadow; without it, Matt's death would have been felt only in the abstract, softening the gut punch of the drama's intensely emotional moments.
These days, shows about grief and trauma are a dime a dozen, but Sorry For Your Loss remains one of the best of the bunch, with a critically-acclaimed performance from Elizabeth Olsen to boot. Don't let its connection to Mark Zuckerberg's evil empire or its place on a now-defunct streaming service deter you from spending a few hours with this moving exploration of heartbreak in its many forms. If the series does end up going poof, it will be a great loss for all of us.
When reached for comment, a representative confirmed Sorry For Your Loss and other Facebook Watch shows are still available to stream on Facebook, but declined to offer additional information about how long they will remain on the service.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.
TOPICS: Sorry for Your Loss, Facebook Watch, Elizabeth Olsen, Janet McTeer, Jovan Adepo, Kelly Marie Tran, Mamoudou Athie