Monday, July 13, 2009

Why "Drop Dead Diva" doesn't reel me in

Sure, the show was on Lifetime, but I figured I'd give it the benefit of the doubt and see how it was. After all, Margaret Cho was on it.

"Diva" is the story of some waif who dies and comes back as a fattie. Not a blunt, just a "plus-size" gal. When is Hollywood going to stop giving us this story? "Shallow Hal" tried to throw that same shit down my throat and it was just as disgusting coming from Gwyneth Paltrow. Is this supposed to make skinny people stop making fun of fat people, or is it supposed to make fat people feel ok about themselves? It fails at both goals.

In one scene, Jane (the plus-sized, smart one) is having a small meltdown in her office. Her assistant, played by an almost unrecognizable Margaret Cho, sternly tells Jane to sit down and put her head back. Jane begrudgingly obliges, and Cho sprays Cheez-Whiz in Jane's mouth.

What the hell? You've just told America that fat women only get upset because they want cheese! Which means any valid reasons we might have to get upset will be met with "here, honey - have some Muenster and relax."

Don't get me wrong, I love cheese and have beheld its healing powers. However, don't women of any size have problems enough having their opinions and feelings being taken seriously? Don't we already have to work hard enough to make sure people know we're upset for a valid reason and we aren't just PMSing? The next time I'm lodging a valid complaint with anyone - the car repair place, the landlord, the guy with the teenie peenie - I want to be taken seriously. I don't want to hear "psht, lady, eat a fucking donut and calm the hell down."

So will it keep skinny people from making fun of fat people? No. Nor will it make fat people feel OK about themselves.

It's made clear that you can only be pretty OR smart. None of this pretty smart girl nonsense. And forget finding a fat girl in the city who can't quote Shakespeare, it's just not done. So, fat ladies everywhere, embrace your arcane knowledge of the Civil War and proper preposition placement! It's ok that you're fat because you're really good at crosswords!

There are other things wrong with this show - for example, how come Jane went immediately back to work after taking a bullet for a co-worker? Why would her company let her come back that same day? I tell you what, if I took a bullet for a co-worker and I had to come back to the office for something important (house keys, whatever) and my boss and co-workers were cool with me staying the rest of the day I would fucking quit. "Oh, hey, Meg - how's the flesh wound? Oh I don't mean flesh like you're fleshy, I mean you are fleshy, but I mean...anyway, can you fax this for me?"

Also, how come Jane hasn't been back to her house? I'm guessing the writers on this show have her living with at least three cats.

But the biggest problem with this show is that it wants fat people to both be and feel accepted. If you make a show where being fat is the focal point of the show, then you will never achieve that goal. Just make a show that has some fat people in it, some skinny people in it, and so forth. Like in "Gilmore Girls," where Melissa Murphy played Sookie St James. Nobody ever mentioned her being fat. She never had a very special episode about heart disease. She just went around being Sookie - funny, cute, good at her job. Not the fat girl, just a friend.

So does it make fat people feel better about themselves? Not really. The skinny girl who is "trapped" inside the fat girl (anybody else see the poorly hidden Richard Simmons lesson here?) is constantly bitching about the fat girl's body. When Jane goes to visit Deb's old friend, the friend tells Deb that if the two went out for the night, Jane's body wouldn't get past the velvet rope.

Sure, there's a nice little lesson in there about standing up for yourself and being proud of who you are ("shoulders back, stick out the rack" or something), but really - there are better ways to get that point across than to bombard us with fat stereotypes and two-dimensional characters.

After all, we fatties prefer more robust fare - both on our plates and in our TVs.


Anonymous said...

Cho must really need the money to have backed this one.

Meg said...

I can see her getting involved because it's supposed to be a show that celebrates fat women and encourages people to feel better about themselves. Chances are the script got quite a few makeovers between her signing on and the filming of the first episode.