Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

“Drop Dead Diva” Season Three Finale: Fun, but Unbelievable

with 11 comments

I’ve watched Lifetime’s original TV show Drop Dead Diva since its inception; it’s about a shallow blonde model, Deb, who dies and ends up in the body of a plus-sized lawyer, Jane (Brooke Elliot).   This is a fun fantasy premise that has enchanted me for three years now; that Jane works with her former fiancé, Grayson (Jackson Hurst), only adds to the fun.  Because as the beginning of “Drop Dead Diva” states, “The only people who know me are my girlfriend Stacey, and my Guardian Angel, Fred.”   (Stacey is played by April Bowlby, and Fred by Ben Feldman.)

Jane is a great character to watch, partly because she’s had to come to terms with being a larger-sized person, and partly because actress Elliot definitely knows what she’s doing.   Jane is smart, something Deb-turned-Jane appreciates as Deb wasn’t; Jane also is compassionate, something Deb tried to be but didn’t always accomplish in her former life as a bubbly blonde model.

At any rate, trying to summarize three seasons worth of episodes is probably too difficult, so let’s just say that Jane still loves her former fiancé but has an active social and sex life.  She’s now dating a plus-sized man named Owen, a judge (played by Lex Medlin).  Jane is a fashion plate who enjoys life and food and has an unusually good head for the law, so overall, it seems like Deb has come out ahead on the deal.

Note this is a fantasy premise that has often been used in romance novels but only rarely on TV; I point this out because in a fantasy/romance with anything close to a premise like this, the one thing that has to be inviolate is that Grayson (Deb’s fiancé, whom Deb-turned-Jane still loves) can never find out that Jane is really Deb.  This has been pointed out several times in the past; for example, in season two’s cliffhanger, Jane tried to tell Grayson after Grayson had been hit by a car that she was really Deb.

And what happened?  Well, Grayson didn’t remember anything Jane said.  More to the point, he had partial memory loss of anything around the actual incident . . . so it’s been established that Grayson should not know that Jane is Deb, because God (or the Higher Power, or whoever Fred the Guardian Angel answers to) seems to want it that way.

However, Stacey actually tells Grayson after an ill-advised kiss (Grayson starts it and apologizes for it) that while she is not Deb, Jane actually is Deb.  Which prompts Grayson to go to the airport to try to stop Jane from leaving for Italy (Jane saw Grayson and Stacey kiss, but didn’t see Stacey more or less pushing Grayson away, and told Fred that Stacey had cheated on him as Fred and Stacey have a relationship going that’s leading toward marriage; this prompted Jane to take the “vacation of a lifetime” and go to Italy), but of course he can’t manage it.

So who does get on the plane to go with Jane?  Her current judge boyfriend, Owen, who’d been about to go to New Zealand for a year instead, but passed on that opportunity to be with Jane.

Look.  I am very much in favor of love.  I also am very much in favor of marriage, true romance, and all the ins and outs that come along with the deal.   But I’m also a writer and editor.  And because of that, I can tell you right now that Stacey telling Grayson that Jane was Deb shouldn’t have happened.  Because if it did, Grayson shouldn’t have remembered it because up until now, Grayson hasn’t known and Jane hasn’t been able to tell him because every time she tried, something awful happened to Grayson.

For example, Fred said at the end of season 2’s finale that Grayson “needed to fall in love with Jane” as she was now, not merely to see Jane as an extension of Deb, which is what would’ve happened if God (or whatever the Deity/Higher Power is conceived of as being in this show) would’ve allowed Jane to tell Grayson who she was.  When Jane tried anyway, Grayson promptly forgot and lost some other memories along the way.

That’s why Stacey absolutely cannot tell Grayson this and be believed; that Grayson did believe it is obvious because he went to the airport to try to stop Jane from leaving for Italy.

So what happened in last night’s episode turned the actual premise of Jane doing her best to get on with her life with or without Grayson as a romantic partner (as Grayson has been a very solid friend to Jane, and vice versa) into a farce.  I don’t respect that, because the way the narrative has been framed up until this point made far more sense from a fantasy/paranormal perspective than it is making right now with this latest plot-wrinkle.

Further, Fred’s role as guardian angel is now in doubt because Jane admittedly shut him out (she told him to leave Stacey, too, but one would hope that Fred will instead confront Stacey and Grayson and find out quickly that both realized the kiss was a mistake and will never happen again under any circumstances whatsoever).  And Fred’s character is what keeps this show as real as it is; Fred is honest, funny, down-to-Earth, in love with Stacey because he sees her goodness as well as her beauty and wants to have a life with Stacey and has given up a great deal in order to do so.  (You’d have to go back to season one to see why I say this, but it’s the truth.)  He’s a character that you can’t help but root for, because Fred cares about Deb-turned-Jane and wants her to be happy.

Every character on “Drop Dead Diva” has depth and I have really enjoyed watching them, and the show, evolve over time.  But I don’t like it when a show’s premise has been compromised, and that’s exactly what’s happened here.

So the upshot of my critique is that “Drop Dead Diva’s” season three finale was fun, but completely unbelievable.  And while I’ll still watch and enjoy season four, and wonder what Grayson is going to do with his newfound knowledge (if he really does remember it, long-term, as he still may not), I believe “Drop Dead Diva” has blown its original premise to high heaven.  And that’s not good.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

September 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm

11 Responses

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  1. Barb,

    Are the writers leaving an “out clause?” What I mean by that is, they can spin this plot-wrinkle any way they want. Couldn’t the main character of Jane/Deb get in the elevator and then daydream the rest hoping that Stacey would tell Grayson and he would come after her? The plane could still have some sort of weird malfunction and they would be grounded, leave the plane and then she sees Grayson; he professes his undying love for Jane/Deb and then she wakes up from this vision, which was her way of coping with the trauma of seeing her best friend lock lips with her ex-fiance. Then it’s back to business as usual and she copes with it in a totally different way, finds out it was a misunderstanding and everything is preserved, original premise and all.

    Edward

    September 30, 2011 at 11:55 am

    • Edward, it’s possible that they have left some sort of wiggle room. Though we saw Jane get on the plane, and we saw Owen get on the plane with her (and saw Grayson go to the airport and try to stop the plane, which Jane didn’t know about), it’s still possible something could happen and the plot premise would be preserved. The creators of the series would have to go a long way for it, but what you’ve described is plausible because they’ve done dream-sequences in this series before.

      What makes me think that they do want to go in this direction, though, is that Jane saw Fred at the airport. In her dream sequences, Fred is almost never there. And Jane told Fred what she’d seen — why wouldn’t she have done this at the law firm instead? — and told Fred to “forget Stacey” and go anywhere else in the world, mostly because Jane was so upset at what she saw (as you pointed out).

      The thing is, Jane obviously didn’t see this in the right context; Stacey did not want Grayson to kiss her and really ends up pushing him (gently) away. (She certainly didn’t give him an invitation, either. She just stood there.) Stacey has realized she wants Fred, and she’d never disrespect Jane/Deb _or_ Fred by kissing Grayson now that she’s made up her mind. (Not that she’d have actively kissed Grayson under any circumstances at all.) So because of that, she could be hallucinating, or perhaps God will “reverse” what’s happened here the same way it happened back in season 1 where Fred kissed Stacey (he was still an angel, then, not a human being who’s acting as an angel and remembers he’s an angel — not the same thing) and God erased Stacey’s memories of Fred. (Stacey originally knew all about Fred being Jane’s guardian angel. Now, all she knows is that Jane’s taken a shine to Fred because Fred works at Jane’s law firm.) But to do that, an awful lot of other things would go away and it really would upset viewers.

      So what I think they’re most likely to do is this: Jane goes on this trip with Owen. Grayson is really at the airport and meets up with Fred; Fred probably will take a swing at Grayson and Grayson will say something like, “I had that coming” and apologize to Fred for kissing Stacey. Grayson will say it’s his fault; Stacey reminds him of Deb so much sometimes and he’s been missing Deb badly. This will allow Fred to back off and go find Stacey. I doubt that Grayson will tell Fred anything else even if he wants to; he won’t be able to, the same way Jane/Deb wasn’t when she came back to life (she could only talk with Fred, and then was able to re-establish a connection with Stacey). So Grayson won’t know Jane is Deb; he’ll just believe that she is very much like Deb because of what Stacey told him, and now will look at Jane in a different light.

      How does this sound to you?

      Barb Caffrey

      September 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      • I think what Stacey actually told Grayson was that Jane is similar to that of Deb and that she loved Grayson. I don’t think Stacey advised that Jane is really Deb. I can’t wait to find out if I’m correct.

        Jim

        October 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm

      • Stacey’s words were, “I’m not Deb. Jane is.” But they did cut off right at that point, so it’s possible that she said, “Jane is _like_ Deb.” In which case the premise won’t be blown, so I truly do hope you’re right. 🙂

        Barb Caffrey

        October 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm

  2. I am so disappointed with the finale of Drop Dead Diva. First and foremost, Jane belongs with Grayson; the entire premise of the show is built upon the pull between these two people, to change it now is just wrong, In addition, I do not like this judge Jane is infatuated with. His over zealous sense of humor gets old quickly. I am not sure what the writers were thinking of when the season finale ended in this way, unless this is just a ploy to have Grayson pine after Jane for a change.

    Also, It is Jane and Stacey’s friendship that has kept Jane’s character going, can this relationship be repaired? Jane saw the look in Grayson’s eyes when he kissed Stacey, this is what sent her off. Only Grayson searching out Jane can fixed this, and bring Jane back.

    I have been a devoted fan of this show; however, the writers will have to pull these characters back together quickly, if they do not want to lose me as a viewer.

    Marilyn DeMichele

    October 16, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    • I agree completely, Marilyn. I see a great deal of problems there unless Jane was basically having a dream of some sort where she got on the plane, dreamed all this other stuff — but then, how would that explain Parker leaving the firm to go search for Brandy Norwood’s character? (Was he having a dream, too?)

      I can see how Stacey and Jane/Deb could be friends again, though — it might be difficult, but I think it can be done. Stacey definitely did not want to kiss Grayson. She felt bad about it, Grayson felt bad about it, and I don’t think it’ll ever be repeated; after Fred hits Grayson (or the equivalent), and Fred and Stacey get back together, then the only obstacle to everything is Jane/Deb herself.

      I like the judge’s character, but I don’t see her with him long-term, either. I think Tony had more long-term potential, and there, she more or less wrecked it with her obsessiveness (when she thought Tony was cheating) — even had she gone to DC with Tony, it wouldn’t have worked, I don’t think.

      Anyway, I’d believe in all this if Grayson had fallen in love with Jane/Deb for _herself_, the way Fred the Guardian Angel said _had_ to be done; that’s really the only premise I’m going to buy in this case. I don’t see, at all, how the Man Upstairs (or whatever the Deity is that Fred works for) would allow Grayson to know that Jane is really Jane/Deb considering all of the other stuff that’s happened that showed that Grayson wouldn’t be allowed to know who Jane really is. So how to allow _that_ happening, I don’t know, unless what Stacey really said is, “Jane is _like_ Deb” rather than “Jane is . . . ” (because they cut off at “Jane is” and we don’t really know if that’s a complete statement or not).

      If what Stacey said was, in effect, “Jane loves you, just like Deb did, and you’re a fool not to realize it as everyone else does,” and _that’s_ why Grayson was running to the airport, then they can still fix this mess. Otherwise, I really do not know how they can fix it, because I agree with you wholeheartedly that the crux of the show is getting Jane/Deb back together with Grayson, but in a deeper, richer, more fulfilling relationship.

      Barb Caffrey

      October 17, 2011 at 2:28 am

  3. I think what Jim meant is that Stacey maybe have been implying that Jane can fill the role of Deb, not Stacey herself.

    stephanie

    October 20, 2011 at 7:46 am

    • oh I just realized I totally missed that last part of what you said, which was exactly what I was thinking.. haha, sorry!

      stephanie

      October 20, 2011 at 7:47 am

      • That’s quite all right, Stephanie . . . thanks for reading my blog, and for commenting. (And I do hope you’re right.)

        Barb Caffrey

        October 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm

  4. I am binge watching the series…. for the third time lol, and I was looking online for what season Stacy tells Grayson. I just wanted to say I hope you didn’t get too discouraged and continued the series! 😉

    Kate Newcombe

    November 5, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    • I did keep watching, Kate. I skipped one season — the one where they changed to the businesslike angel — but came back when they went to the surfer angel. 😀 So I saw seasons five and six.

      Barb Caffrey

      November 6, 2016 at 8:37 pm


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