The premise, on paper, sounded somewhat outlandish: a model named Deb dies, ends up accidentally being sent into the plus-sized body of a lawyer named Jane. She merges her personality with her predecessor's legal expertise. She also has a guardian angel and a best friend from her previous life who knows about the situation. Deb's fiance Grayson is also a partner at Jane's law firm but she's not allowed to hook up with him. It's like a feminized "Heaven Can Wait."
The show, supposedly set in Los Angeles, had to place lots of fake ferns on sets to make it feel more West Coast.
And while lead Brooke Elliott was a theater veteran, her TV experience was nil.
But the show worked. It was mostly light humor with a dollop of drama thrown in. Elliott managed to make a seemingly impossible character feel natural. Jane became a heroine to many fans of the show. Zadan and Meron also gave the show buzz by convincing stars such as Rosie O'Donnell, Paula Abdul and Liza Minnelli to fly to Peachtree City and shoot roles.
During the finale of season five, Grayson finally realizes that Jane may not be the Jane he knew, that she may in fact be Deb.
In the season six two-hour debut March 23, Berman said, "we really dive into the truth. The characters have to deal with the fact that Jane hasn't always been honest with the fact that she is really Deb. And certainly those reasons make sense to the writers to the character of Jane but Grayson may not be sympathetic to the truth." How he moves forward "is somewhat unexpected but very grounded.'
Berman noted that this relationship is the "central theme of our show. It's the core of our show. And certainly this season rewards the viewers that have stood by and watched to see what would happen with that relationship."
He said the fact Jane/Deb chose not to tell Grayson up front about her situation will have consequences.
Berman said he wants to reward the fans who helped propel the show back to life last year. "In addition to our Facebook page, there are so many unofficial Facebook pages out there that just give constant love and support to the show, the tweets that I get on a daily basis from fans that tell me how the show has affected them or changed their life."
Down the road, he said, "I think I always want to write things that impact people like Diva has."
"Drop Dead Diva," 9 p.m. Sunday, March 23, Lifetime