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Why Autumn is the Perfect Time to Watch ‘Pushing Daisies’

PUSHING DAISIES - Golden Globe nominee Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Tony nominee Ellen Greene, Emmy and Tony winner Swoosie Kurtz and Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth star in the visually stunning series
(ABC/JUSTIN STEPHENS)

If you’re anything like me and love to watch things during specific seasons for added ambiance and serotonin boosts, then might I suggest Pushing Daisies for when it’s Autumn? 

No, Bryan Fuller’s short-lived dramedy with a sprinkle of fantasy isn’t exactly spooky, but it fits totally in conduit with the concept of new beginnings and blazing colors in every corner. At the same time, though there’s certainly an appeal to it that also gears toward Spring, something about the premise screams Autumn in the best way. For starters, leaves change the most in the second season, despite only one Halloween episode in the first.

But the magic of Pushing Daisies is unveiled through the romance, friendships, and the ridiculous form of solving crimes exclusive to this show’s narrative. In a nutshell, Ned the Pie Maker (Lee Pace) could wake the dead, but there are terms and conditions to his wonky ability. As the omniscient narrator often reminds viewers—”first touch, life, second touch, dead again, forever.” And as if that weren’t challenging enough, if he doesn’t touch the “dead” person again after the first time before a minute ends, another person in proximity dies.

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From the very first episode to the tragic, untimely final one Pushing Daisies is a force to be reckoned with as an original series. The premise alone sounds deliriously absurd, but that’s a large part of the appeal. As mentioned above, there’s Ned the Pie Maker, a girl named Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel), a private investigator named Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), a hilarious and hopelessly in love waitress named Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth), and two retired agoraphobic aunts called Vivian (Ellen Greene) and Lily (Swoosie Kurtz). It’s a show full of plot twists, intriguing relationships, sardonic banter, and attention-grabbing narration that’s the icing on top of the cake pie.

To this day, there’s been nothing like it, and that alone is a fascinating achievement. It was undoubtedly ahead of its time, but even today, showrunners aren’t bold enough to bring colors and joy to the bleak real world. And this is ultimately where the series finds its footing as it challenges our norms by combining light and dark in a way that shouldn’t work, yet it absolutely does.

UNITED STATES - APRIL 17:  PUSHING DAISIES - Pilot Gallery
(Photo by Bob D’Amico/ABC via Getty Images)

In more ways than one, the show is about grief, depression, anxieties, and the mundane activities we distract ourselves with in order to stop thinking about the things that terrorize us. And while that darkness is a looming shadow throughout the two seasons, it’s not centerfold—joy is. It takes the pieces of us we want to run away from and forces us to confront them in unconventional ways. And when we think of Autumn as a season, isn’t it fundamentally about finding beauty in what’s decaying? Leaves change colors because the weather is drying them out, preparing them for their inevitable falls, yet as humans, we marvel at the beauty of the foliage.

In a nutshell, Pushing Daisies forces the audience to marvel at the mundane, finding various ways to make the ordinary magical. Ned becomes a pie maker because his ability to bring back the dead gives him a purpose while simultaneously saving rotting fruit from trash bins. He repurposes and reuses while he grapples with his loneliness and the tragic beats of his childhood that made him into the man he is. Not a single character on the series isn’t fighting for or against something, but the thought-provoking screenplay and stunning cinematography allow the darkness to be bearable. The language gives viewers pause while forcing boisterous laughs to unravel.

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Darkness and death aren’t funny. The aftermath of grief is nothing to laugh about. But Pushing Daisies is never once insensitive about how it takes on these darker themes; instead, it meticulously dissects the darkness through a lens that magnifies the immensity of the pain while concurrently examining human strengths. It’s a show about a group of people who are more than capable of surviving whatever storms come in their path because, despite their differences, they’re surrounded by people who care enough about them never to give up.

And the found family trope within the series is part of its strength as well as the key to bringing light to the shadows. Ted’s pie shop brings joy to the customers, and though they’re each dealing with something utterly heartbreaking, they’re pushing forward—pushing daisies might equate to being dead, but that’s not what’s happening with these characters. They’re trying and spreading themselves wherever they could stretch. Or, like Ned and Chuck, they’re finding ways to make a love story blossom even while they physically can’t touch each other.

Ned the Pie Maker and Chuck
©ABC

Pushing Daisies is, in every way, a love story. It’s a love story about childhood sweethearts (done brilliantly in a way that counters conventional standards in media), and it’s a love story between friends. It’s about righting our wrongs and fixing our mistakes. It’s a show about taking things one day at a time to make the physical space a little brighter than it is inside of our own heads. It’s about rebirths and second chances. It’s a story that’s both a little eerie and feels like a warm hug concurrently, which isn’t a combination that’s unlocked often. It’s dark and sad, but it darts into the corridors people hide from to heal them from the heartaches that have long trapped them there.

It’s always heartbreaking to think of what else we could’ve gotten if the show hadn’t been prematurely canceled. Fans worldwide are still campaigning for its return over a decade later because dazzling series like this are hard to give up on. The series’ heart was always about second chances, and if it’s ever to come back, it’d be a poetic return for the fans too.

Now, if you’re asking yourself why on earth we’d write a post like this about a canceled series, it’s because Pushing Daisies deserves to be seen (multiple times) even though it ends on a cliffhanger. It’s a happy ending of sorts, even if you’ll be a little sad in the end. In a world where fan fiction exists and hope is still alive, it’s the kind of conclusion that won’t ruin the entire story but will leave you wanting in a way where you’ll still be satisfied. 

Now, if you’re asking yourself why on earth we’d write a post like this about a canceled series, it’s because Pushing Daisies deserves to be seen (multiple times) even though it ends on a cliffhanger. It’s a happy ending of sorts, even if you’ll be a little sad in the end. In a world where fan fiction exists and hope is still alive, it’s the kind of conclusion that won’t ruin the entire story but will leave you wanting in a way where you’ll still be satisfied. 

Pushing Daisies is currently streaming on HBO Max.

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Gissane Sophia View All

Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.

She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for MovieWeb and Looper.

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