Shut Your Pie Holes, 'Pushing Daisies' Is Streaming on HBO Max
The criminally short-lived ABC series, long impossible to stream legally, is finally available.
The facts are these: Pushing Daisies, a criminally short-lived TV show about a pie-maker with a penchant for solving murders by raising the dead, created by one of television's most daring auteurs and long confined to the doldrums of DVD purchase or video hosting sites of questionable legality, has arrived on HBO Max. If you were a fan of the show or ever thought to yourself even once in the past 10 years that it looked like something you might see yourself getting into, were it not so difficult to find, now's the perfect time to make your auspicious return or your first visit to Coeur d'Coeurs, The Pie Hole, and Ned and Chuck's unforgettable romance.
The show, created by the immeasurably talented Bryan Fuller of Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and Hannibal, is just one in a long line of widely praised, prematurely canceled Fuller projects (seriously, the man has a curse). Pushing Daisies, which was broadcast on ABC for two seasons from 2007-2009, marries the grotesque with the technicolor, like a Lemony Snicket story or something out of Tim Burton's golden age, with the sensibility of a musical without actually being one. In 2015, it was added to CW Seed, a not-bad streaming service for many forgotten mid-2000s shows if you know where to look, but now, to the delight of its loyal and loving fanbase, it's also available on HBO Max.
Ned the Piemaker (an irresistibly charming Lee Pace) is blessed with a mysterious gift: the power to bring dead things back to life, but only for a short time before something else must die in its place. "Touch a dead thing once: alive," narrator Jim Dale explains. "Touch a dead thing again: dead forever." Ned uses his power to solve murders with the help of his detective friend Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), touching victims back to life and simply letting them tell him who killed them, before touching them dead once more. In the first episode (titled, naturally, "Pie-lette") Ned's childhood crush Chuck (Anna Friel) is murdered on a cruise ship, and when he touches her alive to find out her killer's name and collect the reward, he can't bring himself to touch her dead again. He has to keep her resurrection secret from everyone else in their lives (except Emerson, who figures it out immediately), and she comes along on their investigations. They yearn for each other, but can never touch, the perfectly aspirational romance for an entire generation of lovesick weirdos.
The show is characterized by its brightly lit and colorful environments, whimsical tone, quirky relationship to the concepts of death and love, and wordy, lightning-paced dialogue that uniquely demands the viewer's full attention, lest they miss exchanges like "I don't think that 'justice' was on the menu. Maybe as a side dish, but not as an entrée." "It was most definitely an entrée. It was a Special of the Day." The cast is rounded out by the perky Olive Snook (Kristen Chenoweth), who moons after Ned though her love is unrequited, and Chuck's aunties Vivian and Lily (Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz), two agoraphobic former synchronized swimmers who live in a Victorian mansion that looks like a gingerbread house and tend to Chuck's beloved bees.
Though Pushing Daisies kicked the proverbial bucket after just two seasons because of declining ratings (for which I hope the world feels ashamed until the end of time), and plans for a comic book continuation, a feature film, and a Broadway musical have been scrapped (though whispers of the musical still pop up every few years), the show has only grown its fanbase in the years since, repeatedly topping lists of most unfair cancelations and most-wanted revivals. The lives of humans, beloved pets, and even fruit destined for pie fillings may be temporary and fleeting, but some things never die.
Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.