To every TV show there is at least one lesson to be learned….and to others many. From coming up roses to pushing daisies…there is something about the metaphors of death and dying, the ethics and philosophy of greed and life, and the true finality, the permanence, and the regularity in occurrence of death. Pushing Daisies explores this world of the dead, to undead, to redead, phenomenon through Ned, the pie maker and awakener of the dead, his dead to undead childhood sweetheart, Chuck, whom he could not let go of a second time, and a host of other friends. They awake the murdered victims, ask who killed them, re”dead” them through Ned’s touch, and collect the reward money. It is a story of greed from the ground up.
Lesson One: Everybody dies
While this seems like a pretty basic statement, and a known part of life, death is still one of the most feared and the most bewildering events that take place in everyone’s life. Dealing with what happens after the end of life, do we go on or not, if we get a second chance at life-if only for a minute-what will one do or say in that moment? Is it selfish or greedy to want them back, regardless of the consequences to others brought on by there return?
Lesson Two: Everyone impacts someone sometime
While throughout the story, many times through Ned’s finger, you realize the simple impact of communication, passing by, observations, and our attachment to those gone. Relationships are about so much more than just the deep loving ones like a partner or family, they can be as simple as consideration of asking someone who is dying, is there anything or anyone they would like so have last words with? Chuck did this in the second episode to a man she had never met, and he asked to tell his secret girl friend that he loved her, and then became dead once more.
Lesson Three: Everyone has skeletons in their closets
In the first episode, Ned learns of his gift to awaken the dead. He is a child. This gift has no directions and like life comes with consequences for every action or inaction taken. He learns quickly that if something dead is awakened longer than a minute, something else must die and if he touches the dead-undead things again it dies for keeps. He finds this out when is undeads his mother, and in turn kills Chuck’s father. It is a skeleton that comes out in a later episode-as it haunts him through the entire storyline. Emerson Cod, the business partner and PI to Ned-has a secret knitting fetish, and there are many more through the story. But as seemingly outlandish and abnormal these may be, they remind us that we all have things in hiding. Things we did, things we do, people we like, etc. It is perfectly ok, unless it takes over your world.
Lesson Four: Everyone has at least one abnormal or socially awkward family member
In the case of this show, the writer does a good job of making each of the roles awkward in some distinct yet connectable way. From the synchronized swimming, cheese connoisseur, sisters with personality disorders (Chuck’s Aunts), to antisocial Ned, to the closet knitter, Emerson, to the obliviously love struck coworker, and it goes on and on. We all have our oddities and quirks, but when it is noticeably outside of social norms, it becomes a looking glass for the world to judge. We all know someone who pushes the boundaries of normal, and many times that person is related as you are close enough to see what they may be able hid behind closed doors.
Lesson Five: Touch Matters, Senses Matter
In the initial episodes there is an exploration of the sensory value of touch. From Chuck’s explanation of a hug, to the fact that it was Ned’s mother kissing him goodnight that killed her permanently-every touch matters. When Ned goes to awaken the dead Chuck, he explores touching her on the lips to awaken her, like a prince in a fairy tale. After deeming it to forward he settles to wake her with a poke to the cheek. When given a chance to kiss her again to kill her-he withdraws leaving her and his dog to be touched by him only vicariously through another object. Eating and touching are explored heavily in this show, as we learn through it and life there are multiple ways a person can be nourished.