Drop Dead Diva puts a uniquely compelling twist on the age-old battle between brains and beauty. The Lifetime series, beginning tonight at 9 pm ET/PT, is one of the few shows on television to cast an overweight character with an actor who is actually overweight. On series like "30 Rock" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine," purportedly slovenly, overeating characters are portrayed by petite, pretty actresses. Jane, the lawyer heroine of "Drop Dead Diva," played by Brooke Elliott thinks like Elle in "Legally Blond" but looks like more like Camryn Manheim on "The Practice."
The show tells the story of a beautiful-but-vapid model wannabe, Deb, who has a fatal car accident and suddenly finds herself in front of Heaven's gatekeeper, Fred, who declares her a self-centered "zero." Outraged, Deb attempts to persuade Fred to return her to her shallow existence but is accidentally relegated to the body of the recently deceased Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliott). A brilliant, thoughtful and plus-size attorney with a loyal assistant (Margaret Cho), Jane has always lived in the shadow of her more comely colleagues, whereas Deb has always relied on her external beauty. Now, by a twist of fate and a bolt of divine intervention, Deb must come to terms with inhabiting Jane's plus-size frame in the ultimate showdown between brains and beauty.
"The press materials for Lifetime's "Drop Dead Diva" contained glowing testimonials from women's groups, providing another reminder that such advocates needn't be overly concerned with originality. Granted, there's much to be said for a program featuring a smart, plus-sized heroine in today's rail-thin TV world, but "Diva" undernourishes its premise amid a sea of legal-procedural banalities. Stage actress Brooke Elliott makes for an appealing lead -- always a good place to start -- but constructing a show around her without the contrived "Here Comes Ms. Jordan" template might have been a more fruitful approach." Variety
"Drop Dead Diva is a lot of fun to watch, with the added bonus of introducing TV audiences to Brooke Elliott, a stage actress with fabulous comic timing and enormous dramatic flexibility. Certainly, the show falls more in the fun category than the brilliant, and it's not going to change television as we know it, but with any luck, it will remind us not to take everything, including television shows, so darn seriously. There is joy to be had in a doughnut, beauty can radiate from a face not made entirely of cheekbones and Botox, but that's not the point. Deb's zero, zero has nothing to do with looks but with deeds, and in its own light-hearted and sentimental way, that is what "Drop Dead Diva" makes clear. Not so much that beauty (yawn) comes from within, but that you actually have to do something to put it there. On second thought, it may indeed change television as we know it." LA Times
"Drop Dead Diva isn't a public-service message, it's a lighthearted romantic comedy on Lifetime. Yet for all the farce it is grounded in reality." NY Times