In My Opinion
Homosexuality and Sperm Donation: We Get The Drop Dead Diva Inside Scoop!
It's a well documented fact that I am a Lifetime TV devotee and that I am their #1 fan, especially when it comes to being able to rattle off dialogue, verbatim, from the Lifetime Original movie: A Woman Scorned The Betty Broderick Story. It’s true; if you ever meet me I will perform a soliloquy for you, scout’s honor.
For, me Drop Dead Diva's ability to juxtapose the superficial with the stuff that really matters consistently draws me back and has me feeling a real kinship with its characters. I especially identify with the character of Jane, who having to live in the body of this zaftig brunette but with the soul of ditsy waif like blond model, constantly struggles with this internal dialogue of how she perceives the world- and how society perceives her.
So of course, this Sunday's episode, which tackles the 2005 FDA rule that precludes gay men from donating sperm, is presented in a way that could only be pulled off by the Drop Dead Diva cast and writers. This sensitive topic is handled with grace and with such a humanizing voice that it made me fall in love with this show (and its creator Josh Berman) all over again. The thing is- whether you are gay or straight- this kind of blatant prejudice affects us all, and the uber good looking actor, Tyler Jacob Moore, nails his performance as Dan Abraham - a gay many who is arrested for donating sperm and is represented by the Drop Dead Diva team of lawyers who eventually argue that the only basis for the FDA restriction is homophobia.
I had a chance to chat with Drop Dead Diva executive producers Josh Berman and Craig Zadan about this issue and why they felt it needed to be addressed, and Tyler Jacob Moore offered his insight as to why he felt he wanted to participate in this episode. Drop dead Diva GOES where other shows don't and invites all of us along on the journey and for that I am so very grateful. Here is a bit of the how and why this episode took shape...
Melissa Chapman: For the mom who’s watching this with her kids or on her own what do you want her to take away from this episode?
Craig Zadan: You know, when I was watching the episode myself when it was done, I thought that - with Josh’s writing and Tyler’s performance of this character - I thought to myself, is there anybody that’s going to watch this that’s going to object and feel that this is wrong, because, the point that’s being made is so clear and so humanistic that you care about Tyler’s character so much. But, again, it’s the writing and the acting that is so strong that it humanizes the story so that I think anybody can watch this episode and understand why the law is ridiculous.
Tyler Jacob Moore: Just from the actor perspective and what people should get out of it, I think is the absurdity of it. I’m from a conservative upbringing and area and I know plenty of people that have a lot of stereotypes and a lot of just fear of the unknown as far as the homosexual community. For whatever reason, they’re not around it. They don’t have any gay friends, they don’t know anybody and the people that they do know - the family that they do know they kind of move off to a city and are never seen from or heard from again and they don’t communicate.
For the stereotypical American family what I’d like to see them get out of it is that we still have these laws on the books. Even as recently as 2005- lawmakers and policy makers are still making laws and doing things that don’t make a lot of sense and don’t have a lot of scientific backing, but are these just quiet digs at the homosexual community. And whatever you want to say, whatever your thoughts or personal preferences are about people’s sexual preference and what people do in their bedrooms, I don’t think it’s anybody’s business to be passing laws to affect them in that way.
And so -if they could take away the idea that, whether or not you approve of homosexuality in general or whatever your personal stance is or religious stance I think you can take away that laws and the lawmakers need to be above that and need to kind of stay out of the way. With this episode - hopefully they’ll see the absurdity of this law and who knows, maybe write their congressmen or write their local leadership and say hey, you know, I’m whatever and I disapprove of this, what can we do about it.
Melissa Chapman: Right, now just the whole life after death theme, that’s just something that I love about this show the idea that a soul lives on. Where did that come from?
Josh Berman: Sure. Well, the concept of the show, you know, a skinny supermodel in an overweight body, the notion of that...
Melissa Chapman: I know, it’s like every girl’s dream, by the way, to have that happen.
Josh Berman: Well, I love sinking my teeth into issues of identity, which permeate, I think, every episode of the show.
But more importantly, the most influential person in my life growing up was my grandmother who was an overweight Holocaust survivor who was 4 foot 11. And I wanted to write a show as a tribute to her and her name was Deb and that’s why I named the character Deb, after my grandmother. But I certainly couldn’t go to the networks and say I want to write a show about a chubby Jewish short grandmother. So I thought how can I take her spirit and infuse it into something, because she did carry herself like a supermodel.
She made me believe I could do anything I wanted to do and when she walked in a room people noticed, even though she wasn’t a model. So basically, what I did is I took her, and I created the character of Jane with the essence of Deb and Deb being my grandmother.
Melissa Chapman: Ah, that’s beautiful.
Josh Berman: Ah, thank you. In fact, at the end of every show my logo for the company is a photo of my grandparents at their wedding and then again at their 45th wedding anniversary. You’ll see that after every episode of Drop Dead Diva.
You can catch this episode airing tonight Sunday, August 19, 9/8c on Lifetime!