Today, the Lifetime show Drop Dead Diva was officially canceled. You might not have watched it. You might not have even known that it was on. But the show's cancellation makes one thing especially clear: there are not enough plus-size women on television.
Sure, a legal dramedy about the soul of a fashion model being brought back into the body of a plus-sized woman may not have been your thing. And Drop Dead Diva wasn't exactly classic television by most people's standards. But it had something that most other television shows are too afraid to touch: a plus-sized character who was an actual human being instead of a prop to hang physical jokes on. A character who was not defined by how much she weighed. A plus-sized character who was not only a good person (because, you know, if you're not beautiful on the outside, you must be on the inside), but who has an actual love life.
But look around at the other shows currently on television, and they don't come anywhere close to that level of depth. There are only two shows on television right now that have plus-sized women in lead roles: Mike and Molly and Super Fun Night. While Mike and Molly is a sweet but generally mediocre show currently resting on the laurels of Melissa McCarthy, it's not above making a fat joke about the overweight couple at its center (it is, after all, another show from the mind of Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre). And while we were hopeful about Rebel Wilson's new comedy Super Fun Night this year, she's quickly become the Stereotypical Fat Girl in her own show.
Otherwise, if you're overweight and on television, you're most likely a dude or Donna from Parks and Recreation (another rare example of a fully realized plus-sized character). So even if you didn't love Drop Dead Diva or didn't even know it was there, the loss of the show leaves a hole for plus-sized women in the television landscape. There's one less character to tell women that they're more than the size of their pants, that just because they don't look like every single other woman on television doesn't mean that they're somehow less than.
Right now, the representations of plus-sized women on television are a joke, in more ways than one. Hopefully, the cancellation of Drop Dead Diva will make more room for more than one woman on television with more than one body type.
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