Lifetime Network’s new show Drop Dead Diva tells the story of a Deb, a shallow blonde model/actress who dies in a car crash and forces her way out of the afterlife. Deb Finds herself accidentally placed in the body of Jane, a chunky, unfashionable and very smart attorney who was accidentally shot by her boss’ unhinged client on the same day. Waking up in Jane’s hospital bed Deb is told by her new guardian angel (demoted because of her “escape” from heaven) that she retains memories and personality of her previous life, here combined with the brilliance and body of a fat lawyer. Brooke Elliot, playing Jane Bingam, brings attitude and real presence as a flaky thin waif in a big girl’s body, which includes comedy and sharp timing. It’s basically a metaphor for the show; that physical looks aren’t everything, and that you can’t judge a book by its cover, etc.

Another neat thing to watch will be Deb’s foray into the world of a career woman and the trials and tribulations that will bring. In the beginning she was more defined by her boyfriend and their relationship but obviously this show will try and showcase her growth as a businesswoman and her growing self-confidence with it. Yes this idea has been done before but if the writers can keep it fun and fresh no one will care. I’m also wondering if Deb will try to lose the weight, this is an obvious conundrum but one that is also realistic since she was previously in great (almost pathological) shape. She may decide to go back to that but that of course directly conflicts with the main thesis of the show, that it doesn’t matter what you look like and its what’s inside that counts.

A major storyline will also revolve around how Deb deals with her boyfriend, who so far has no idea of her current situation and is right now playing the role of grieving widower. She can’t exactly tell him what actually happened (would you believe it?) so we are left with her agonizing about it and seeing if he will start to pick up the clues (this is what I suspect) or not. Also a good casting choice of Margaret Cho in the role of the personal assistant, whom I always thought got a raw deal after her much-maligned (and deservedly so) sitcom All American Girl.

Besides dealing with this opening bomb shell, this episode seems to establish a few things; her co-worker trying to sabotage her in the workplace to get ahead; her naiveté in being an attorney as well as dealing with a client of an unfaithful spouse. The former situation is really interesting because her nemesis is basically the same girl as she was/is – a shallow, materialistic girl driven solely by her own self-interests. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

The pilot episode seemed to have a light, fun vibe and didn’t seem to push its morals onto the viewer, but did have some poignant ideas and life lessons to impart. Deb’s new attitude will probably have the effect of changing those around her and most importantly herself as well. So far so good, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Starring: Brooke Elliot, Margaret Cho, April Bowlby, Kate Levering, Jackson Hurst, Josh Stamberg, Ben Feldman

Created By: Josh Berman

Network: Lifetime

Showtime: Sundays, 9:00pm EST