“Drop Dead Diva” is a new show from Lifetime. The premise of the show is a vapid blond (Deb) dies, is deemed useless, and wins a second chance … as a smart, plus-size lawyer named Jane Bingum. Wackiness ensues.
Rick Berman, the producer, says “It’s a cross between Freaky Friday and Heaven Can Wait.” But the question posed on Twitter (by Margaret Cho as @dropdeaddivatv) was far more interesting to me.
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic vermin.
With those famous (if oddly translated) words, Kafka brought us into the strange world of The Metamorphosis. It begs from us the question of what, indeed, would we do if we woke up, entirely the same in our head, but being completely unlike ourselves. This seems to be the underlying question to be asked in Berman’s new show. The question most asked of ourselves every day: Who are we?
We would like to imagine that, in the course of human endeavors, the awaking of self-disgust is a rarity. That few people, if any, come to the gut wrenching fact that they are that which they despise. And yet we know the truth to be the opposite. Surely, the Founding Fathers would never have come to their dreadful decision, choosing to commit an act of treason in order to stand up and say that they hold these truths to be self-evident. But if the slow path of human progression teaches us anything, it’s that change is inevitable. It is there, in that change, that we find the seed of origin to be in the moment that man (human, not male) has looked in the mirror and deemed itself a cockroach.
Who among us has not looked in the mirror and thought they could stand a change. The prevalence of magazine perfection has brought with it the price of mental dystopia, but also an awareness unknown to our ancestors. We are always aware of our looks, our appearance, and how it continually affects our standing in life. We don’t always adapt well to when these mystical, unspoken requirements change, however, and they oscillate between extremes at all times like a ping-pong ball in a wind tunnel. But there inside ourselves, we see the insect. The vermin.
It is when we obsess over those unwanted aspects that we become, in total, the cockroach. When we decide that abortion is murder and reach the point in our lives where we deem it acceptable to commit murder on a doctor to prove that, we are the cockroach. When we take a rifle into a museum whose purpose is to ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten and shoot, and kill, a guard merely because he was there and associate with people we hate, we are the cockroach. When we stand and do nothing to stop the spread of lies in the world, we are the cockroach.
So imagine you wake up and find yourself to be everything you strived not to be. Or even just that you were no longer you. How would you redefine yourself? How would you prevent your new self from being the cockroach?
While I don’t suppose “Drop Dead Diva” addresses the issues on such a serious level (and I’m glad they won’t), it will be facing that eternal question. Who am I.
I look forward to seeing this dramedy.