Oh, how clearly I remember the first PR I got for Drop Dead Diva, Lifetime’s now 2-year-old hourlong dramedy: dipsy-doodle blonde model Deb dies in a car accident, huffily hits the Return button on the computer of her heaven-or-hell triage worker, and does indeed Return to life. Only in the body of a chubby, humorless, plain-Jane lawyer named … Jane (Brooke Elliott). Who just so happens to work in the same firm as Deb’s grieving fiance, Grayson (Jackson Hurst).
Cliché meet stereotype — let the fat jokes fly.
Except that wasn’t the case at all. Instead the pilot introduced a charming, thoughtful and gently funny original series, bursting with new faces just waiting to steal their scenes. And rather than offend, Diva instead racked up awards from GLAAD, the NAACP, the International Press Academy and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications.
Firmly anchored in the mystery of soul mates, the show, over the course of two seasons, has explored almost every angle. Do we have but one “The One”? Will sympatico psyches find a way to connect even when the externals don’t match up? How much currency is physical attraction once love takes root? Does how we look change who we believe we are?
And most importantly, how long will we Diva faithful wait until Grayson finally gets it through his handsome noodle that his pal Jane has a svelte and squishy Debbie center?
In classic cliffhanger style, Season 2 ended with Grayson requesting that Jane meet him for dinner, calling “Deb!” to her as she stood on the other side of the street — then promptly getting plowed down by a car. Well NOW what? Will he come to so much the wiser? Will he die and come back in, like, Fred’s body? Or someone else’s? Will Grayson and Deb resume their romance in heaven? What???
I’ll give you a little hint …
Season Three opens with a musical bang — a splashy song-and-dance number that has almost the entire cast dressed as docs and nurses, getting down to a Jane-warbled “Don’t Leave Me This Way” throughout the hospital where G lies in a coma.
While the episode does have a little more fun with the Return button joke, we’re staying on terra firma, folks.
And thats A-OK, for it allows Jane’s right-hand woman Stacey (April Bowlby, who’s my vote for the funniest woman on TV) to use her encyclopedic knowledge of all things celebrity — and not much else — to score herself a gig as Jane’s “intern” on the case of a stud-muffin movie star accused of hit-and-run. And for a freshly and contentiously split Kim (Kate Levering) and Parker (Josh Stamberg, who could be the love child of Stephen Collins and Josh Duhamel) to meet up in an improbable but amusing case that mirrors their own imploded relationship.
The episode is also good for a trio of famous guest stars, including Paula Abdul, back as Jane’s imaginary voice of reason; Wendy Williams as a judge who clearly knows from crappy relationships; and LeAnn Rimes, who returns to Lifetime for the first time since her role in the network’s Nora Roberts adaptation, Northern Lights, led to an affair with her costar Eddie Cibrian and the end of their respective marriages. The pair is now happily married.
And speaking of married. sort of, now about what was it that Grayson needed to speak to Jane/Deb so urgently …?
Season three of Drop Dead Diva premieres Sunday, June 19 at 9pm ET/PT.
Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney/Lifetime Television