Stream It Or Skip It?

In Limbo, now streaming on Hulu, originally aired in Australia in 2023, and creator and writer Lucas Taylor brings a pithy kind of Aussie humor to a six-episode limited series that fills its chatty sitcom frame with more serious themes of loss, grief, suicide, depression, and redemption. So, kind of heavy! But also: pretty funny. It’s a shock when Charlie (Ryan Corr, aka Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong from the first season of House of the Dragon) discovers his lifelong friend Nate (Bob Morely) has died unexpectedly. But it’s even more of a shock when Nate reappears just as suddenly. “I may not be a living organism,” he tells Charlie. “But I’m very real…”      


Opening Shot: “Thank you all for coming. Today is a sad day” – Charlie stops, looks at himself in the mirror, starts again. And that’s when Nate chimes in from the other room. “You need to have some edge. You’re the headline act. You wanna look sad, but still bangable.” 

The Gist: It’s not a spoiler to say that an upright and wisecracking Nate is tagging along with Charlie as the latter prepares to deliver a eulogy at the funeral service of the former. This is in the first few minutes of In Limbo, before the series flashes back to their lives before the tragedy. It will eventually flashback further, to their childhood, when Charlie and Nate bonded immediately, and Nate’s mom was fond of saying things like “People don’t disappear when they die, as long as you keep them alive in your heart.” But now that Nate’s gone, there’s a void in Charlie’s life. And as lifelong best friends who used to josh each other for using a supposedly sentimental term like “best friends,” he realizes that emotional repair and greater transparency were lacking at times in his most important male relationship.

While he was living, Nate did acknowledge to Charlie that he had seen a medical professional, but only hinted at the nature of the visit. It seemed there was nothing to suggest an issue in Nate’s marriage to Freya (Emma Harvie, Colin from Accounts), or their lives as happy parents to soccer-playing Annabel (Kamilia Rihani). Charlie was even helping his best buddy build a charming treehouse in the backyard dubbed “Casa Bella.” So it’s overwhelming when Charlie arrives home from a blind date arranged by his matchmaking pals only to discover his bff’s body. “Suicide rarely makes sense,” a police lieutenant tells him. And now he’ll have to break the terrible news to Freya and Annabel.

At every turn, In Limbo tempers the easy rapport between its cast with the serious notes of Nate’s passing. But it’s actually Nate himself who ends up doing most of the heavy lifting as the series turns to the chapters after his passing. Nate was always the confident, easygoing, and charming pal to Charlie’s quieter, more thoughtful, hesitant self. And that dynamic remains after Nate reappears as an apparition. Why is he an apparition? Why hasn’t he “crossed over”? These are questions In Limbo will tackle. But it will also explore why he did it, how his decision reflects on his marriage to Freya, and what can be learned by the living. Remember: be present in the lives of your loved ones. And always hug your friends.

Photo: HULU

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Ghosts – the American version airs on CBS – keys up the sitcom vibes, and with that more traditional laughs. But it shares a kind of examination of the afterlife with In Limbo, as well as the conceit that only certain human characters can see and hear the spirit ones. And speaking of the afterlife, Dead Boy Detectives, which recently premiered on Netflix, features two guys who investigate supernatural crimes instead of crossing over.  

Our Take: In Limbo quickly and effectively establishes an ease with its writing that makes the everyday stuff of its adult relationships valuable, like the offhand revelation of a private part of Nate and Freya’s marriage that escalates into a comedy of errors that’s both physical and paranormal. And it’s a shock when Nate goes, because even as a character he seemed like the guy with everything to live for. But isn’t that what we always say when confronted with the loss of someone we love? In this series, the humor is equal to its message, which has more to say about suicidal ideation and the maintenance of mental health, particularly among men. While In Limbo sells its supernatural angle with suggestive wit – when circumstances prevent him from attending their date, a woman angrily texts that he’s “ghosting” her – what we’re most looking forward to is how it further rectifies that side of its premise with what’s going on in the world Nate departed, and what changes will occur in those existing relationships.         

Photo: Hulu

Sex and Skin: Nothing in the first episode, anyway.

Parting Shot: “Where’s Dad?” Whether his spirit world best buddy is willing to admit it or not, back here on the mortal plane, Nate’s passing has left Charlie in a real tight spot. 

Sleeper Star: Whether alive and vigorous in flashbacks or appearing to Charlie as an apparition – “I prefer the term ‘wandering soul,’ it’s more mysterious, like I’m in a Jeff Buckley song” – Bob Morely’s charisma as Nate is a constant draw for In Limbo, and one of the best tools the series has toward establishing its occasionally tricky tone.   

Most Pilot-y Line: Charlie’s first conversation with Nate since his best friend unexpectedly passed away is rough, but also informed by their lasting bond. “I am him, Mate. I know this is weird, but it’s happening. I’m stuck in limbo. You are stuck with me, until we find a way for my soul to cross over.”

Our Call: STREAM IT. As sitcoms go, In Limbo is extremely bittersweet. But at least Nate’s still with us as a ghost, and we’re invested in discovering more about him, even if those revelations must by nature take place inside the little community of loved ones and friends that he left behind.

Johnny Loftus (@glennganges) is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. 

Leave a Comment