Written and directed by Dan Levy, Netflix’s ‘Good Grief’ follows the story of an artist named Marc, whose life is turned upside down after the sudden death of his husband, Oliver. For everyone, Marc and Oliver were the dream couple, totally in love and perfect for each other in every aspect. However, after Oliver’s death, a secret comes to light, which makes things even more complicated for a grieving Marc. Considering how realistically the film explores the idea of grief, the viewers are bound to wonder if the film is based on a real story.
Dan Levy Wrote the Film After Losing a Loved One
After the success of Schitt’s Creek, Dan Levy explored the idea of telling a story that was different from the sitcom but had just as much heart and soul. His last project was focused on family, but with his next one, he wanted to tell a story about friendship and focus on the idea of “found family.” While he was still thinking about it, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world. Towards the end of the global pandemic, Levy lost his grandmother and was hit by a wave of grief and heartache that left him in “a very strange headspace.”
While processing his feelings of loss and sadness, Levy thought about the correct idea of what grieving means. He wondered if he was properly grieving his grandmother and felt guilty for not showing as much sadness as he should have in honoring her. It was this feeling that he started exploring the premise of what would eventually become ‘Good Grief.’ A few months later, Levy also lost his dog, which built up more emotions that Levy felt he needed to let out. Calling writing “the greatest outlet for pain and catharsis,” he took to pouring his feelings on paper and came up with Marc’s story.
One of the things that Levy was focused on in the film was not to make it a romantic comedy. While love is front and center in the movie, he didn’t want romance to take all the limelight. Rather, he wanted to focus on something deeper and more intimate, like the protagonist’s relationship with his friends. In the movie, Sophie and Thomas are full-fledged main characters who have paths and struggles of their own. They are not just some side characters who are only there to help Marc through his sadness.
Talking about the importance of friendships in such stories and why he chose to make it the core aspect of the film, Levy said that he wanted to tell a story that celebrated friendship and put romance “on the back burner.” “This is me examining my own life and relationships and how much they mean to me, particularly now. I’m single. As a single guy, my friends are everything. As a gay guy, found family is such a part of our identity,” he said in an interview with Attitude.
Levy also noted that old friendships tend to get more profound and more complicated with age, where deeper issues within the circle are not addressed because the stakes are higher. Sometimes, we tend to “excuse the most in terms of having those hard conversations about life and bad habits and patterns of behavior” because we don’t want to feel uncomfortable about it. In the movie, these difficult conversations finally come to the surface when Marc and his friends are trapped and have nowhere to go but to address the issues with each other.
Considering how important their friendship is to the story, Marc, Sophie, and Thomas needed to have the chemistry that old friends like them would have. The casting of Himesh Patel and Ruth Negga eased that process, as they, along with Levy, rehearsed for two weeks before the filming commenced. During this time, the trio bonded with each other, talking about things that friends would talk about, knowing each other on a deeper level, and taking that bonding and chemistry to the film. With all this in mind, it’s clear that despite it being a fictional story, Dan Levy was entirely focused on making this story feel as realistic as possible so that the audience could see themselves in those characters and say that they have been through and felt similar things in real life.