Image of George Rexstrew as Edwin and Jayden Revri as Charles in a scene from Netflix's 'Dead Boy Detectives.' Edwin is a white, teenage boy with short, dark hair wearing a grey pin-striped suit, a white buttondown with a wide collar, and a bowtie who's seated behind a desk with a serious expression. Charles stands beside him with his arms folded. He's a mixed-race white and Indian teenage boy with short, wavy dark hair wearing a maroon polo shirt, a gold chain, and black pants. He's smirking.

‘Dead Boy Detectives’ Is a Surprisingly Poignant Blend of Gaiman’s Weirdness and CW-Style Teen Drama

4/5 Detectives

If you’re looking for a show to fill the Riverdale-shaped hole in your heart, scratch your Sandman itch until season 2 arrives, or both, Dead Boy Detectives on Netflix may be just what you need!

Recommended Videos

So, is it any good? Read on, friends …

The titular detectives, Charles Rowland and Edwin Payne, made their first comic appearance in The Sandman #25 by Neil Gaiman in 1991 as part of the “Season of Mists” story arc. They are the ghosts of two teen boys who died in different decades (Edwin in the early 1900s, and Charles in the 1980s) and meet in death. Rather than try to move on to the afterlife, they decide to stay on Earth to investigate supernatural crimes.

Created by co-showrunners Beth Schwartz (Sweet Tooth, Arrow) and Steve Yockey (The Flight Attendant, Supernatural), Dead Boy Detectives stars George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne and Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland and starts with the boys already best friends and established ghost detectives in present-day London. We’re plunged into their lives in the middle of a case as they shoot rapid-fire, English-accented banter at each other. It feels very Gaiman-y.

Though the best of friends, the boys couldn’t be more different. Edwin is a serious young man who maintains his turn-of-the-century English boarding school fashion sense in a school uniform, complete with a bow tie. Charles is laid-back, funny, charming, and looks like a 1980s rocker kid. What they share is a desire to solve the murders of people, usually marginalized in some way, whose cases have been overlooked.

Image of Kassius Nelson as Crystal in a scene from Netflix's 'Dead Boy Detectives.' She is a Black teenage girl with shoulder-length, curly black hair highlighted with red wearing a white t-shirt and wrapped in a quilt as she sits up on a couch looking up at the detectives.
(Ed Araquel/Netflix)

Normally, Edwin and Charles aren’t visible to the living. That all changes when they cross paths with a teenage American girl in London named Crystal Palace (Kassius Nelson), as they pursue a lead on a case. She’s a clairvoyant, one of the few types of people who can see them, and they hope to use her power to aid them in their case.

It turns out that she’s also being pursued by a demon entity. Charles wants to help her, thrilled that an attractive teenage girl can actually see and talk to him. Edwin, however, is wary. He’s skeptical of the living (what with them being responsible for his death and all) and prefers to keep his distance. However, Crystal proves helpful not only in solving but also in choosing their cases. As they get to know each other during the harrowing events of the show’s pilot, it becomes clear that the three teens share a sense of justice and a desire to help the people on society’s margins.

Image of George Rexstrew as Edwin, Jayden Revri as Charles, and Kassius Nelson as Crystal in Netflix's 'Dead Boy Detectives.' Edwin is a white teenager wearing an 1800s boys' school uniform with a bow tie. Charles is a mixed race Indian teenager wearing a 1980s style leather jacket. Crystal is a Black teenager with long, wavy dark hair wearing a purple velvet blazer. They are standing together at night looking off into the distance.
(Ed Araquel/Netflix)

As I said in my interview with DBD co-showrunner Schwartz, while the show gives off Chilling Adventures of Sabrina teen horror vibes (which makes sense, considering both are Greg Berlanti shows), and is basically “The Hardy Boys on acid,” it’s also surprisingly poignant. Through the detectives’ work, the show examines themes around “who matters” when they go missing, and whom society prioritizes. It examines issues of consent, too. Specifically, the fact that consent can be revoked at any time.

DBD’s lead trio have wonderful chemistry, and each gives charming performances that are underpinned by the gravitas of their individual characters’ traumas. Each of these kids has been through something pretty intense, but when they come together, they realize that they can help each other overcome the events of their pasts. It might sound cheesy to say, but this show is ultimately about the power of friendship, in the best way.

An offering that is slightly less dark than The Sandman, darker than Prime Video’s Good Omens, and which provides something unique for viewers in their teens and 20s, Dead Boy Detectives is an entertaining addition to TV’s “Gaiman-verse.”

Dead Boy Detectives is now streaming on Netflix.

(featured image: David Bukach/Netflix)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article All Us Tori Amos Fans Finally Have Our Delirium
Delirium, a rainbow haired girl in an oversized gray coat.
Read Article You May Know the Prodigal in ‘The Sandman’ by Another Name
The Sandman's Dream with a helmet
Read Article The Rest of Dream’s Family Has Arrived in ‘The Sandman’
Morpheus glares at something off screen in Netflix's The Sandman.
Read Article Is There an ‘NCIS’ Season 22 Release Date?
mark harmon with a cut on his head in ncis as gibbs
Read Article Dang It, Bobby, When Is That ‘King of The Hill’ Reboot Premiering?
King Of The Hill
Related Content
Read Article All Us Tori Amos Fans Finally Have Our Delirium
Delirium, a rainbow haired girl in an oversized gray coat.
Read Article You May Know the Prodigal in ‘The Sandman’ by Another Name
The Sandman's Dream with a helmet
Read Article The Rest of Dream’s Family Has Arrived in ‘The Sandman’
Morpheus glares at something off screen in Netflix's The Sandman.
Read Article Is There an ‘NCIS’ Season 22 Release Date?
mark harmon with a cut on his head in ncis as gibbs
Read Article Dang It, Bobby, When Is That ‘King of The Hill’ Reboot Premiering?
King Of The Hill
Author
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.