Why Judy from Dead to Me looks so familiar

Dead to Me is back for a second season and it's safe to say that the Netflix show, which started off with a completely-insane, plot-encompassing murder, mayhem, and soap opera-style intrigue, hasn't lost any of its fire. The show's popularity, particularly with women, could reasonably be chalked up to the easy rapport between leads Christina Applegate, who plays Jen, and Linda Cardellini, who plays Judy. The two women have an irresistible onscreen chemistry, making them fully believable as BFFs one minute, sworn enemies the next.

Dead to Me is a major showcase for the considerable talents of its leading ladies, both of whom have already enjoyed lengthy careers working across television and film. Both also, coincidentally, started out on TV with Applegate's breakout role coming in 1987 as Kelly Bundy, daughter to Al, on classic sitcom Married...with Children. Cardellini, meanwhile, had a similarly early start in Hollywood, meaning there are likely several major on-screen roles you recognize her from.

Linda Cardellini has been working in Hollywood for decades

The actress and Dead to Me star is slightly younger than her onscreen cohort, so Cardellini didn't pop up on our screens until the glorious nineties (via IMDB). In 1996, she got her first big role as Sarah in Bone Chillers. A few bit parts followed but it was the short-lived, but beloved teen sitcom Freaks and Geeks, in 1999, that really put Cardellini on the map. The show, which ran for just one season, also launched the careers of the likes of baby-faced Seth Rogen and James Franco and is considered a cult classic nowadays.

Just a couple years later, Cardellini made an impression as another lovably grumpy outsider when she appeared in the Reese Witherspoon-led film, Legally Blonde. She's featured in several big movies in the years since, from Brokeback Mountain, to playing Velma in the live action Scooby Doo movie and its 2002 sequel, Monsters Unleashed.

Dead to Me's Judy is the pinnacle of an exciting career

Cardellini has remained a TV stalwart, too, starring in ER and Bloodline, among others, including an Emmy-nominated turn on Mad Men. As she's matured as an actress, film roles as a variety of disapproving mother types abounded, including in the Daddy's Home movies and horror flick The Curse of La Llorona. She even popped up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alongside virtually every other actor in Hollywood, as Hawkeye's wife.

Dead to Me represents another fascinating twist in Cardellini's Hollywood story, which is assuredly far from over. On her reasoning for taking the role in the first place, the actress gushed to Indiewire, "I've been trying to just say yes to things that scare me or challenge me or are completely different from things I've done before. This fit in all of those categories for me. It was a total adventure."

Sometimes, Linda Cardellini is too well-known for her work

Although Cardellini is incredibly passionate about the work that she does and is willing to try new things that comes her way, the key roles she's enjoyed in her career have sometimes complicated matters for her in the real world. Aside from juggling motherhood and relationships, as she told Elle, being interchangeable with her characters causes fans to confuse who Cardellini actually is off-screen. "It's a double-edged sword. You want people to believe what you're doing, so if they believe it, feel passionately about it — and, in turn, dislike you for something unlikable that your character does — in one way, that's a good thing. But as a person, it's not easy to digest," she explained.

Cardellini then recalled how, when she was on Boy Meets World and her character split up lovebirds Cory and Topanga, the backlash from fans was intense. "I remember a bunch of kids running up to me and yelling, 'Homewrecker!' and then running away. It was the first time I'd been recognized in public: a group of little kids calling me a homewrecker," she revealed. Still, Cardellini understands it comes with the territory given what she does for a living, even if viewers' outsize reactions don't always make sense.

Every new role is an adventure for Linda Cardellini

Looking back on her impressive, and impressively-varied, career with Rolling Stone earlier this year, Cardellini explained her approach to choosing roles. "What I tended to do, and what I think I still do, is try to take a left turn after each role and do something that's different. It keeps me alive inside my mind and and keeps me challenging myself." She sees herself in every part she plays, advising on how Lindsay in Freaks and Geeks, "Represented the struggle that I had, that she wanted to be grown up in some ways but was still a kid."

As for iconic cartoon character Velma, Cardellini didn't even think she had a shot. A fan of the character since childhood, she took the role very seriously, admitting, "I had a tape where I would listen to Velma from the cartoon everyday before I went to work. 'Jeepers! It's the creeper!'" 

For someone who got her start at age 11, playing an elderly woman in her school's production of The Music Man, it's been a long road but Cardellini's mother instilled a "why not you?" mentality in her that's stood the test of time almost as well as the actress herself has.