Drop Dead Diva was about Jane, a plus-size lawyer whose body is inhabited by the soul of a dead fashion model.
MaryAnn Neely / Fay Greene (guest character)
The series revolves around vapid aspiring model, Deborah “Deb” Dobkins, who is killed in a car crash on the way to an audition for The Price Is Right. As her soul enters the gates of Heaven, she finds herself being judged by a gatekeeper named Fred. As a result of her shallowness, Fred declares her a “zero-zero,” since she has performed zero good deeds and zero bad deeds during her time on Earth. While he’s distracted, Deb presses the “return” key before Fred can stop her and is brought back to life in the body of a recently deceased lawyer named Jane Bingum , who died protecting her boss, Jay Parker.
Jane is the complete opposite of Deb; she is brilliant, hard-working, charitable, and plus size. Deb finds that Jane also works in the same law firm, Harrison-Parker, as Deb’s fiancé Grayson Kent. After immediately telling her best friend, Stacy, of her predicament, Deb prepares herself to tell Grayson the truth about her new body. However, Fred’s assignment as Deb’s guardian angel serves as punishment for letting her leave heaven. His purpose on Earth is to prevent Deb from telling Grayson the truth and insisting that no one else can know that it is really Deb in Jane’s body.
Deb struggles to learn more about her inherited life, learning lessons about self-esteem and personal acceptance. Eventually, the real Jane Bingum reappears in another person’s body after having pressed the return key, leading Deb to finally reveal the truth to Grayson, now one of Jane’s closest friends. Grayson, after grieving and moving on from Deb’s passing, becomes conflicted, but finally accepts Deb in her new body, saying that he wants her to be her and no one else.
In addition to working with Grayson at the law firm, Deb (as Jane) also contends with her professional rival, Kim Kaswell, who briefly dates Grayson after Deb’s passing.
##Episode: “Second Chances”
- Aired 16 August 2009
- Season 1, Episode 6
MaryAnn Neely comes to see Jane in her office, having met her a few years prior when Jane worked a pro-bono case for the St. Jude’s Hospital, where MaryAnn worked as a nurse. Scared and needing help, MaryAnn doesn’t get to explain much before the police arrive and arrest her for murder.
At 18, MaryAnn’s boyfriend had her stay in the car while, unknown to her, he robbed a continence store. The robbery went bad, he killed the clerk, and MaryAnn was culpable for not only accessory to murder, but also murder in the second degree. Hearing the DA was pushing for the death sentence, MaryAnn ran once she got out on bail, changed her name and started a new life. She fell in love, got married and had two children. When the hospital started fingerprinting everyone for security, MaryAnn knew she’d be caught, so she wrote a note to her husband, Phillip, and went to Jane’s office so she wouldn’t be arrested in front of her children.
Upset at the deception, Phillip has trouble putting aside his feelings of betrayal, and in a case where the law isn’t on their side, Jane has to humanize MaryAnn, and prove she’s not the same person she was 20 years ago. While MaryAnn’s coworkers extol her virtues, the most the DA is willing to offer is a reduction. Ten years for manslaughter. At first, MaryAnn is more concerned that Phillip won’t testify, but then the idea of ten years, away from her children, scares her. Jane suggests that MaryAnn take the stand, and tell the jury what she never told her husband.
MaryAnn’s testimony sways her husband, and he wants to testify but it’s after the Defense rests and no further testimony can be heard. Instead, Jane quotes a letter from him in her closing argument, arguing for MaryAnn’s rehabilitation as service enough.
MaryAnn is found guilty of accessory, innocent of murder, and sentence to time served for the community.
Jorja plays the soccer mom, MaryAnn Neely (formerly Fay Greene), whose criminal past comes back to haunt her.