More “Diva,” More Problems

This post is an extension of “Drop Dead Diva,” which describes a popular television series that inspired a ton of online comment from every angle. It was accused of appealing to the “fatlogic” crowd. The fact that Jane refuses to work out, and her inability to resist doughnuts, are seen as too close to fat acceptance, or FA as it is known in these circles. To some minds, the show seems to imply that genetics is everything, and mind can never triumph over matter.

To be accurate, when the story opened, Jane was not really all that heavy, and admitted to being size 16. By Season 6, she has gained quite a lot, but it doesn’t seem to be mentioned in any context. In many productions, actors are contractually obligated to maintain their looks, or face penalties. For a show like this, however, it would be interesting to know what kind of stipulations would be written in.

Of course, a page argued the finer points of an essentially untenable premise, that of a deceased person’s soul being transplanted into the body of someone else who died at the same instant. How much of an effect would the host body’s metabolism, chemical makeup, and so forth, have on the new inhabitant? If a person had previously been super-fit, wouldn’t waking up in an overweight body drive her into an immediate frenzy of exercise?

If a non-addicted person’s soul takes over the body of an addict, even a food addict, does that count as an extenuating circumstance? One anonymous comment said:

I would have liked for Deb to whip her new body in shape, it’s like the fat in her new body took over her brain and made her forget all the things she used to do to take care of herself in her old body.

The show depicts a woman who lives a fulfilling life, rather than being distraught over her weight. Some might say, what’s wrong with that? Others may say, “Why can’t a person do both?” There are characters in other shows who do both, and that’s fine.

But why does Jane have to be one of them? She is an individual, not a stand-in for all obese women everywhere.

In the sixth and final season, reviewer Evette Dionne wrote that Drop Dead Diva “shatters the idea that fat women are undeserving of romantic love,” and said of Jane,

She’s beautiful and brilliant, and she knows it. She treats her body like a larger canvas and adorns it in clothing that accentuates her assets rather than camouflaging her perceived flaws. Deb/Jane understands that she disrupts spaces with her perkiness and her size, so she does it intentionally. [Jane] somehow continues to smile even as she encounters multiple obstacles in her personal and professional lives. Margaritas and cookies seem to solve all of Deb/Jane’s woes, and she remains committed to her own happiness. In this regard, Deb/Jane is a revolutionary character.

So, while some viewers were puzzled or angered, many found the series relevant and worthy, and use words like important, significant, and sorely missed, and the writers supplied enough differently-quirked characters to belie accusations of favoritism to any point of view.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Forced to watch ‘drop dead diva’ and realized that its fat logic,”, 2015
Source: “‘Drop Dead Diva’s Final Season Marks the End of An Era in the Fat Liberation Movement,”, 03/30/14
Photo credit (left to right): airdrie.mLyudmila Zolotaryova (Lulena2), airdrie.m on Visualhunt/CC BY-ND

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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