Wednesday, July 29, 2009

TV Review: Drop Dead Diva

The Deets:
Drop Dead Diva
Lifetime Television
Sunday Nights at 9 ET/8 CT, encore on Mondays at 8 ET/ 7 CT
also available with OnDemand the day after the premiere and at the official page at

Unlike many of the real critics out there, my response to Lifetime's newest series, "Drop Dead Diva" is negative and it's a shame. There are a few good things to say about it. The cast is excellent: Brooke Elliot and Brooke D'Orsay, who share the lead, are charming, lovely actors. April Bowlby is bringing her A game as the comic foil. Ben Feldman is dorky-sweet and if I were much younger, I'd probably find him crush-worthy. The rest of the cast is also quite good. The message on the surface is one of empowerment and acceptance. One half of the lead is not a size zero. At the very least, they're giving me an alternative to the screechy grinning neediness that has become the norm whenever anyone female and over 120 pounds appears on camera. Lifetime is throwing me a bone and I should be happy about this. Right?


Lifetime is trying to get me to accept stereotypes about who I am and what I am like and be grateful about it because there are so few big women on television who are presented in a remotely positive light. No, thank you. Yes, it's nice that Jane is kind and a sharp lawyer and pretty. She is also a bit whipped by life because she has been conditioned to disappear in the presence of her thinner cohorts. She makes what can be described as orgasmic faces over pastries. Other than Rachel Ray, who does that? Instead of finding that exercise can be fun and feel good, she whines that it's hard. She's not even that fat. There's no reason she couldn't be experiencing an endorphin high from a good workout. Oh, wait a minute. She's not model-thin, so the only thing that could possibly make her feel good is biting into an eclair. Give me a break.

I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that this show is either written by people who have never been fat or by people who are writing to accommodate women who want to see themselves represented by a bigger actress and those who think the big girl is good for a giggle at the same time. By presenting Jane as a person with intellect and feelings, a spunky hero to root for, they are trying to say the empowerment is there. By putting in the moments when the most physical gratification she gets is from eating a doughnut, they chip away at the dignity of the character with the dramatic equivalent of gaping at a fat person's grocery cart or dinner plate. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.

After three episodes and going from hopeful that it would get better to seeing it get closer to the way I feared it would be, I'm done with this show. There have been star turns by larger actresses on television where their characters' size and beauty weren't the only things that mattered to them or to the people around them. There will be again. Lifetime, this is one favor from you I don't need or want.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner

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