Drop Dead Diva

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A drama/comedy/fantasy series on Lifetime.

Deb (Brooke D'Orsay) is an attractive, ditzy blonde who is auditioning for a job as a game show hostess. She is engaged to be married to her lawyer fiancé Grayson (Jackson Hurst). She goes off to her audition to be a model on The Price Is Right, talking to her friend Stacy (April Bowlby) on her mobile and filing her nails, all at the same time. Poor Deb. If she had looked up for only a minute, maybe she would have noticed the grapefruit delivery truck parked in the middle of the intersection up ahead...

Meanwhile, at a law firm (the exact one Grayson got a job at, we learn later) in the same city, a literal 'Plain' Jane (Brooke Elliott), is preparing for her day. She is mousy, overweight, has many self help books, has a witty assistant Terri (Margaret Cho), and a business rival Kim (Kate Levering) who is busy showing off her new purse. Jane steps out of her office just in time to see an armed gun man come in. Apparently, Jane's boss was dating the gun man's wife. She tries to calm down the situation, but trips over a purse (Kim's, no less), and the paranoid gun man shoots her dead.

You're probably asking, 'What the hell, the two main characters die in the first episode?' but rest assured, here is where it gets good.

Deb gets stopped on her way to heaven by angel Fred (Ben Feldman), because she has never done a good or bad deed in her whole life. "It doesn't mean you're a bad person. Probably just really shallow", he tells her. Outraged, Deb pushes a return button, and is sent back to Earth...in Jane's recently vacated body.

Now poor Jane/Deb has to deal with being a skinny girl in a fat girl's body, work as a lawyer with Jane's legal smarts (strange fact, Deb has all of Jane's knowledge of courtroom operations, but no memories of Jane's past), handle working in the same room with her (ex?)fiancé, and just get used to her new life, including dealing with things from both her and Jane's pasts.

P.S. Because of what Deb/Jane did, Fred was sent to Earth as her guardian angel, or as he calls it, her babysitter. Along the way, he gets a crush on Stacy, whom Jane lets in on the big secret...

Tropes used in Drop Dead Diva include:
  • Betty and Veronica: Jane and Vanessa halfway through Season 2. Shown in a dream sequence in Episode 12.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Jane, though she doesn't always see herself this way, especially in Season 1.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Subverted. The initial impression from the pilot and from what Deb!Jane says is that she'd pretty much brush off Jane in her past life. From what we meet of her past friends, they're also fairly shallow and not exactly great people. The subversion is that Stacy, her closest friend, is entirely sweet and well meaning. And it's brought up in one episode that Jane (a brunette) pre-Debization was fairly distant and reclusive, going as far as buying off her mother versus Deb being incredibly close to her parents.
    • Played straight in second season: Kim dyed her hair platinum blonde.
  • Brainless Beauty: Deb was one, and Stacy can fall under it, though both have started picking up lawyer terms due to Jane's brains.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Even literally.
  • Butt Monkey: Grayson claims himself to be this, given that some of his cases included representing a monkey, a transsexual, and a couple who owns a haunted house.
  • California Doubling: Atlanta for Los Angeles.
  • The Cast Showoff: Brooke Elliott has a really good singing voice, and the show wastes no opportunities in reminding the viewer.
    • Likewise, the karaoke scene in "Home and Away" was a good show of Ben Feldman's (Fred) singing voice.
  • Catch Phrase: Deb!Jane tends to post-fix questions with, "right?" somewhat regularly.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: How the afterlife is run.
  • Cloning Blues: Invoked in "Chinese Wall". Though in this case the clone is a dog and it's the master that's blue. As in the trope, the clone is age-identical; however, the dog is "imperfect" in that it no longer responds to the master's commands.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Stacey occasionally falls into a ditzy version of this. Jane comes across as this to her boss, though primarily due to her lateral thinking.
  • Curse Cut Short: Fred's cry of "Je-!" when Stacey uses mace on him. Beyond the humor of the scene itself, what makes it hilarious is that Fred is an angel.
    • In "Dead Model Walking", after unknowingly agreeing to a double-date with current boyfriend, rival, and ex?-fiance, Jane lets out a flat "Fun". Of course, the shocked expression on her face says that other F-word.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rosie O'Donnell's judge is pretty snarky.
    • In fact, several of the judges on the show have a notable sarcastic edge.
  • Dream Sequence: Quite a few, often involving guest stars as themselves.
  • Dumb Blonde: Deb and Stacy. And often subverted; both of them are a lot smarter than given credit for. It's just that their smarts don't necessarily revolve around the sort of knowledge most people would consider worthwhile. Plus, Stacy figures out and accepts Deb's new body/situation pretty quickly.
    • It becomes much more subverted in the second season where Stacy starts to get a lot more savvy and smart, even using her image as a dumb blonde to her advantage.
    • Also, the more Deb learns and experiences Jane's life and hears about Jane's life before Debization, the more the viewers start to see how Deb as an outside observer makes rather insightful observations on her life. Indeed, there are signs that ditzy but well meaning Deb may actually be making a better life for Jane than Jane ever was. Such as re-connecting with Jane's absent dad and getting Jane's mom to go into therapy for bi-polar disorder.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Stacy.
  • Filing Their Nails: Used as part of a character-defining moment during the first-episode setup: ditzy blonde Deb goes off to her audition to be a model on The Price Is Right, while talking to a friend on her cellphone and filing her nails — and ends up in a car crash because of her inattention.
  • Flash Back: Used to flesh out Deb and her relationship with Grayson before her death. Also used with stories or phrases Deb told Grayson and that Jane repeats; this confuses Grayson immensely.
  • Genius Ditz: The ditz part comes from Deb, the genius part from Jane. Though as with Dumb Blonde, Deb isn't necessarily as ditzy or dumb as usual per the trope. She's just that way compared to Jane and in fact can be pretty insightful.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Fred, upon seeing Stacy, talks about how he'd like to do her groceries, shingle the roof of her house, hunt wild animals and bring her meat. Deb!Jane chastises him and tells him to keep his meat to himself.
    • In "Chinese Wall", Terri bluffs her way into a dog show by saying she's an editor with the magazine, Doggy Style. Kim asks afterwards if that's actually a real magazine. The reply is "Yes, it's just not about dogs."
  • Identity Amnesia: Used by Deb!Jane as an excuse why she's different after Deb!Jane got shot.
  • Meaningful Name: Plus-sized Jane as in "Plain Jane".
  • Meganekko: Stacy wears a pair while helping Grayson on a case. She also does a Hot Chick in a Badass Suit to go with for a twofer.
  • Mood Whiplash: After a heart felt speech to save the home of an old lady who refused to move due to sentimental value, having lived there with her husband, had given Kim and Grayson cookies, etc, from developers, she profusely thanks Grayson and Kim for their help and hopes they'll help her again in six months time when her case goes on appeals. And then, making sure they promise to keep helping her and what have you, tells them something under lawyer-client confidentiality... reveals that in actuality, she doesn't want to move and have developers wreck her house because that would uncover the body of her dead husband. Whom she killed. It's not really clear if this is supposed to be funny, shocking, or what but it changes the mood considerably.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Fred.
  • Phony Psychic: "Make Me A Match" features two of these, or so you think. However, while the two act like phonies and the entire cast of characters sees them as such, to the viewers, they actually are legitimate (for the most part).
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Whenever Deb gets an unusual flash of knowledge from Jane's mind, she tends to act like she has a mild shock/headache.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Several of the cases that Jane's law firm handles are based on real life cases. For instance, Mary Ann Nealy, in the Season 1 episode "Second Chances" is partially based on Sara Jane Olson. However, in keeping with the fact that this is a Lifetime series, the defendant is more sympathetic and gets a happier ending.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Parker started off as a cheating womanizer. Once his relationship with Kim kicks into full swing, however, his wife isn't brought up even when Kim shows up at his home or when he's drinking over having broken up with Kim temporarily. Only the womanizing aspect remains and even then it's been downgraded mostly to him simply disassociating himself from past girlfriends.
  • Wistful Amnesia: In regards to Fred towards everyone but Deb!Jane after he romances Stacey. Unlike the trope though since this comes from above, it's a perfectly clean slate so no one remembers Fred.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Parker, the boss, is doing this. Not just with one mistress but three in his office alone and that isn't counting the one whose husband shot Jane.