Out of the ashes of cancellation, Drop Dead Diva is back for a surprise fifth season this Sunday (Lifetime, 9/8c).
Although the revival was cause for much joy on set, creator Josh Berman tells TVLine, Jane’s life remains full of complications and turbulence. This is especially true when it comes to her two paramours, Owen and Grayson, and the woman whose body she inhabits.
Below, Berman talks about the premiere’s big “surprises,” why Parker is no longer around and what’s in store for Kim and Stacy. Plus, have you seen the new guardian angel?!
TVLINE | Since the show got a second chance at life, did anything change from how you originally envisioned starting the season?
Only in the sense that there’s a renewed enthusiasm on behalf of everyone involved with the show. It makes coming to work all that more fun. We were dead, so to speak. The fact that we’ve been resurrected, there is glee in getting a second chance and there is joy in writing and the actors are at the top of their game… I never would have ended Season 4 on a cliffhanger had I not already worked out Season 5. I feel the first four seasons are building to Season 5. Brooke Elliott and I were really bummed when the show was cancelled because I couldn’t wait to write, [and] she couldn’t wait to act, Season 5. Now that we are given this new season, it’s just fun. We are doing everything we had wanted to do and more.
TVLINE | What was the creative thinking, storyline-wise, behind cutting Parker?
Let me start off by saying I love [his portrayer] Josh Stamberg. I loved working with Josh. He and I have talked about him potentially coming back for episodes. That being said, as a show ages, there’s a natural progression. The storyline we had set up with him and Brandy and a child somewhere else, naturally, comes to a head in Season 5. Now, getting to write a story for Kim about a woman in her mid-30s that has an accidental pregnancy and now has to raise that child on her own actually creates more drama. For me, it’s an interesting area that I don’t want to back away from. I’m really enjoying writing her character this season.
TVLINE | Kim and Parker aren’t going to do a long-distance romance?
No. I was much more interested in seeing Kim as a single pregnant woman. She is such a fine actress. Most of the time, when you think of a woman being “abandoned” by a man, you think of a young woman. What happens when that woman is a mature, adult partner in a law firm? How does that affect her? It’s really rich territory for actors and writers to mine.
TVLINE | How will last year’s cliffhanger with Original Jane play into the new season?
The first episode back will both reward long-term viewers who are fans of the show and will also be easy access for new viewers who have never seen us before. I’m a huge fan of TV. I love TV. And I love when a show can subvert my expectations in a good way. If I come to the TV set expecting a storyline to play out a certain way, and then it doesn’t, but it’s just as plausible, that’s what gets me excited. That’s what we’re doing with Drop Dead Diva. I want to continually challenge the viewers. I want to answer questions, but I want to subvert their expectations.
TVLINE | So Original Jane coming back in Owen’s body is not necessarily what you think it is?
Yes. I love the way you said that. The campaign Lifetime’s using right now is, “You don’t know Diva,” and there’s a lot of accuracy to that. The season opener is a big, splashy episode with lots of surprises.
TVLINE | Where is Jane’s heart at? We last saw Grayson confess his feelings to Jane at her wedding to Owen.
Jane is in a unique situation. We have two very viable love interests for [her], and the question is, “Who will she choose?” That’s part of the fun of Season 5.
TVLINE | What does that mean for Grayson?
He will continue to fight for her, which only makes things more difficult for Jane.
TVLINE | What does the new angel Paul [played by Justin Deeley] bring to the table that wasn’t there maybe before with Luke?
It was always anticipated that Luke would be on the show for just one season. The reason for that is, for me, in developing the angel character, I always want a really good counterpoint for wherever Jane is in her personal growth — someone who can add conflict to Jane’s life, but also show us new colors on Jane.
I thought it would be great to introduce a male angel that had the same energy of Deb. Paul is a vapid, superficial, very good-looking guy who is happy to go through life without having to make any major decisions. It’s everything Jane was when she was Deb, but nothing like who she is now as Jane. Watching Jane have to deal with this male version of herself is so much fun.
TVLINE | What’s ahead for Stacy?
Stacy is going to be forced to make a decision on whether or not she’s going to sell The Pakery. Barbara Corcoran, one of the sharks from Shark Tank, comes on the show, playing herself, in Episode 3 and gives Stacy an offer which she may not be able to refuse. This is the season where Stacy really has to decide what she wants out of life. Is it being a business woman? Or is it something else? We’ll watch her grow a lot this year.
TVLINE | I heard you’re not doing any musical numbers this year.
We’re not doing a big musical number with Brooke. But we do have some musical surprises in the show.