Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Watch this: 'Drop Dead Diva'

The Lifetime Television channel recently introduced the new series Drop Dead Diva, which airs original episodes at 9 p.m. Sundays.

I caught the pilot a week ago, and then watched the second episode on a rerun last night (hey, we're talking about a cable station -- so that means multiple viewing or DVR-ing opportunities every week!)

Drop Dead Diva is a very touching, witty and insightful program that examines looksism in our shallow, beauty-obsessed society. It stars zaftig actress Brooke Elliot as Jane Bingum, a brilliant lawyer who is "possessed" by the spirit of a dead model named Deb (Brooke D'Orsay). Actually, both women occupy Jane's body. (It's a bit confusing and requires a serious suspension of disbelief, but bear with me here): The comely but vapid Deb now inhabits Jane's body -- with all of her personality and memories intact, but with Jane's sensibilities and brains.
Suddenly, Deb has to deal with the "horrors" of being plus-sized: not liking what she sees in the mirror, being ignored in singles bars, and having sly put-downs and barbs hurled her way from her wicked, but pretty, rival in the office. Oh, and (coincidence alert!), Deb's grieving fiance, Grayson (Jackson Hurst), is now a junior member of the law firm -- but of course he has no idea his darling is alive but sporting a new, heftier form!

Phew! Did you get all that? Don't worry -- it's not at all hard to follow once you start watching it.

Of course, it's not perfect. Some of the acting is only so-so -- but Elliott is spot-on as a woman with two personalities! -- and it sometimes relies too much on cliched depictions of being overweight (must Jane really crave donuts to the point of distraction?) or pretty (does her BFF Stacy (April Bowlby) really have to be a dumb blonde?). Still, it's a very rewardable hour in front of the tube -- and you won't even feel like a boob for enjoying it!

The show has apparently hit a big nerve with American viewers, as its premiere garnered blockbuster ratings for Lifetime (by cable standards, at least!). So, that bodes well for the series' longevity.

Long may Deb-- er Jane -- er, Deb -- live!


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