TV Review: Drop Dead Diva

People complain that there aren't any original TV shows anymore but you can find them if you care to look, sometimes in surprising places. Season three of Drop Dead Diva premieres this coming Sunday, June 19th, on Lifetime. I've actually been watching this show since it started and it is such a charmer that when we were offered a sneak peek at the new season, I had to take a look.

If you don't know the premise of Drop Dead Diva here's the gist: a twentysomething aspiring model named Deb gets in a car accident because she's being totally dingy and painting her nails or something while driving. She goes up to heaven and after not being able to charm her way back to being alive with the angel checking her in, she hits the "return" key on his computer while he's distracted and that sends her back to Earth. But instead of waking up in her own hot, young model body, Deb wakes up in the body of a thirtyomething overweight, super smart lawyer named Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliott), who also just kicked the bucket. (I'm betting somewhere in Heaven, Jane is pissed.)

Deb-now-Jane is understandably upset as well. She rushes to find and tell her best friend and fellow model Stacy (April Bowlby) about it. However, before she can also tell her fiance, hottie-lawyer Grayson (Jackson Hurst), the same angel she tricked in heaven shows up and stops her. Because Fred the angel (Ben Feldman) screwed up at his post, he was assigned to Earth to keep an eye on Jane, and one of the rules is she's not supposed to tell anyone. So Deb-now-Jane is left to find her footing in a life, career, and relationships (or lack thereof) that aren't her own. She has the intelligence and practical knowledge of the original Jane, such as how to practice law, but none of her personal memories. On top of all that, it turns out that the law office where Jane works has just hired her fiance-before-death Grayson. Fred acts as Jane's conscience, but since he's new to Earth himself, he has a few mishaps along the way (like totally falling in love with Stacy first thing).

So that's the gist. Simple right? And that's before they get to the law cases.

This show is incredibly charming and is a lot of fun to watch and much of that is because of Brooke Elliott's portrayal of Jane. Imagine living your own day-to-day life but having the ultimate confidence of a model, and that pretty much sums up Jane. Her original personality and life experiences tell her she's fabulous and that's how she lives her life. She flirts, she tosses her hair, she's confident in her ability to be charming, despite the change in her looks. And while the premise of the show is obviously set up to deal with body issues it does so obliquely, exploring different aspects of prejudice and perceptions of attractiveness within the law cases that come up. Jane isn't happy with her new body, but it is not something that crushes her. She's more concerned with winning back the love of her fiance Grayson, who is just as hot and sensitive as before Deb died but now with heartbreak thrown in.

That brings us back around to what the show really explores: personal responsibility. It is a show about relationships and personal choices. In the last episode of season two, Jane had decided to tell Grayson that she was really Deb, when he gets hit by a car. (Irony, much?) The premiere episode of season three explores the conflict between making choices for personal reasons and doing the right thing.

All that with some dance numbers thrown in! Warning: Jane tends to dream in musicals and Paula Abdul occasionally shows up to knock her with a truth she'd would rather not face. The supporting cast is just as charming, with Stacy as super bubbly and surprisingly perceptive, Jane's assistant Teri (Margaret Cho) as sarcastic but supportive, and fellow lawyers Kim (Kate Levering) and Parker (Josh Stamberg) being the stereotypical sharky lawyers but with undercurrents of depth and their own relationships to work through.

All in all this show has a lot of heart and season three looks to be no different. If you're looking for something new this summer, I'd recommend checking out Drop Dead Diva.

Season three of Drop Dead Diva premieres Sunday, June 19th, on Lifetime.

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