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