“Drop Dead Diva” is a summer series that brings a smile


A skinny woman dies and returns to life in a fat woman’s body to learn that beauty is more than skin deep. Doesn’t sound like the most original premise, does it? That’s exactly why I didn’t pay much attention to Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva, despite the presence of Margaret Cho.

But I happened to catch a few episodes last week and liked it enough to watch the whole first season over the weekend. In case you haven’t seen it, Lifetime kindly produced a catch-up video.

What makes the show work is that the “lessons” about self-image are a side effect of the story, not the story itself. Deb doesn’t instantly transform into Jane — she fights her new life at ever turn. And the wonderful Brooke Elliott manages to be convincing as both Deb and Jane at the same time.

Part of Diva’s magic is that Deb’s presence actually makes Jane a more powerful woman. In an interview with EW.com Sunday, Cho points out that Jane is beautiful, but she has always stayed in the background:

[Jane is] a beautiful woman, and [the show] treats her like a beautiful woman. She’s got all these guys fighting over her … it’s just about taking somebody [the real Jane] who formerly considered herself invisible and making her visible. Deb’s never been invisible, she doesn’t know how to be. So when she’s in Jane’s body, she knows how to be visible. That’s what this is about: Somebody becoming visible to themselves and to the world, which is powerful.

Of course, a good assistant always helps.

Diva has already had some killer guest stars, including Rosie O’Donnell, Paula Abdul, Delta Burke, Liza Minnelli, Kathy Najimy, Nia Vardalos and Jorja Fox. This season will bring many more. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Cybill Shepherd, who will play a Miranda Priestly-type client. Sounds perfect.

Season 2 of Drop Dead Diva started Sunday and each episode is repeated several times a week so you can still catch it.

Are you watching Drop Dead Diva? What do you think of the show?

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