Wednesday, July 15, 2009

*drop dead, fatty.

I enjoy Lifetime, Television for Women. During the four years I lived in my apartment, I managed to catch at least four episodes of The Golden Girls a day, five times a week.

When I wasn't on one of my many, many dates.

Now I still have the channel memorized—252!—because it plays reruns of the sitcoms (Will & Grace, Frasier) I use for white noise with comforting consistency. When one lives alone, it's hard to sit in the silence. Especially if one is me, and finds oneself suddenly without the pleasant soundtrack of her own prattling voice. I try to talk to J, but he's all, "leavemealoneI'msleepin.'" So having a laugh track on in the background, keeping you company while you fold laundry or stare forlornly into the still-empty refrigerator, is a comfort.

Thank you, Lifetime, Television for Women.

However, if you keep playing this promo for your "spirited new comedic drama series," Drop Dead Diva, I am going to throw my uterus at the screen.

The synops, according to the Web site for Lifetime, Television for Women:

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 ... Deb ... is accidentally relegated to the body of the recently deceased Jane Bingum ... 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.


A sampling from the trailer:

Voiceover: "Deb Dawkins was a beautiful model. Who was a little self-absorbed. Jane Bingam was a brilliant attorney with low self-esteem."

What Lifetime, Television for Women wants you to think: We all have our crosses to bear.

What they're really saying: Women pretty much only come in two speeds. If you're hot, you're probably going to be stupid. If you're fat, you might be smart, but that doesn't really account for much.

Deb [now in Jane's body]: "Make me skinny and hot."
Fred: "I'm an angel, not a wizard."

What Lifetime, Television for Women wants you to think: Deb thinks her problems can be solved in a snap, but ohhoho does Fred have other ideas!

What they're really saying: No way can someone who is a size 16 be hot. Nice try, Deb. You are so screwed!

What I think: Fred? Really? No one in this show has a name that's not monosyllabic? There's a Flinstone guarding the gates of heaven? Are there more fries in the freezer?

Voiceover: "The only thing Deb can do now is balance the life she knew before and the life she's forced to deal with."

What Lifetime, Television for Women wants you to think: These struggles are going to make her a well-rounded and lovable person!

What they're really saying: Poor Deb! She's been played a miserable hand. Fat is a fate worse than death! Being a successful, smart, capable, passionate attorney is worth squat. You're just big, sweetheart.

Drop Dead Diva

Dick Boss: "I thought you'd understand her fears and insecurities. You and Vicki are cut from the same cloth."

What Lifetime, Television for Women wants you to think: Low self-esteem is a terrible thing!

What they're really saying: Remember? Two speeds. You can't be fat and have healthy self-esteem, no you can not. We created this show for the very purpose of reminding you of that. Don't all you fat people go getting any ideas.

Deb [referring to herself, for unknown reasons, in the third person]: "Deb may not have been the best person in the world. But I still miss her. Does that make me self-absorbed and selfish?"
Fred: "No. It makes you human."

What Lifetime, Television for Women wants you to think: Aw, Deb has a heart of gold! Put her back in that hot body where she belongs!

What they're really saying: Hot, skinny, vapid people can be human inside any trappings. Even fat ones. Fat people do not get a second chance to learn any lessons of any kind. They had an opportunity to be real life people, but they ate it.


I have a visceral reaction to the whole setup. I reject the creators' (all men, for what it's worth) assertion that they're breaking any new ground here. Women have always been subjected to the notion that they exist on a spectrum from hot to not.

Yes, Deb is handed the eternal hardship of size-16-ness, but she also gets Jane's smarts. (Jane gets ... what? A heavenly respite from her hugeness?) So I fail to see how it's at all "the ultimate showdown between brains and beauty."

Nor why those two things were at odds in the first place.

Lifetime. Television for Women. Who are hot. Also for those who are not, but only if they feel really, really bad about it. Or die so that skinny people can learn some valuable lessons. Sundays at 9!


at: 5:40 PM said...


at: 6:00 PM said...

I kinda liked the show.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.