DROP DEAD DIVA: Josh Berman Talks Season 6 and What Happens When Jane’s Secret Gets Out (2014)

"Drop Dead Diva"
“Drop Dead Diva”

What an amazing journey it has been. Six wonderful seasons of the adventures of Jane, Stacy, Grayson, Kim, Teri, Owen, Parker and those delightful angels: Paul, Luke and Fred. They made the life of a lawyer look glamorous and heroic, and more fun that most of us could have imagined. DROP DEAD DIVA did not just want to tell the tale of a young woman killed before her time who found a way to come back, even if it meant taking on someone else’s life; it wanted to show us the power of love and friendship — and the joy of championing others.

In a recent exclusive interview, creator and executive producer Josh Berman previewed what big, exciting things DROP DEAD DIVA’s sixth season will offer and talked about the ramifications of Grayson finding out Jane’s secret.

Thank goodness DROP DEAD DIVA got picked up for Season 6. That Season 5 cliffhanger would have killed us!
JOSH: I am so glad you say that. Me too. This season has been the most fun to write because it finally got to the point where Grayson (Jackson Hurst) knows the truth. It is so freeing, and the actors are loving it. It is hilarious getting texts from them after each script, like, “Oh my god! I didn’t see that coming!” They are having so much fun.

So does Season 6 pick up right where Season 5 left off? Will there be a time-jump?
JOSH: The new season starts 8 hours after the last season. It’s the next morning.

With Grayson finding out Jane’s (Brooke Elliott) big secret, how is that going to go? I cannot imagine that it going to be taken very lightly.
JOSH: So many shows have big secrets and it all comes out in a season finale or a single episode, but I thought, “We have a season to tell this storyline. I want to see what happens. What happens when Grayson actually figures out the truth or is told the truth? And the first couple of episodes are very tumultuous. They have to figure out: what is true love? Can Grayson forgive Jane for not telling him the truth all those years? Jane feels like she did the right thing, but she has to question her own motives on why she didn’t actually come clean to Grayson. In the pilot of the series, Jane made a decision to tell one person and that person was Stacy (April Bowlby). It wasn’t Grayson. Now she has to figure out why she choose to go to Stacy and not Grayson.

That sounds like it could cause a lot of problems.
JOSH: It does and it is great material.

So this is your “play” season, the one where you get to have all the fun wrapping up the series.
JOSH: Yes. If viewers have fallen for the show, this is the reward to the viewers. It rewards the loyal viewers who stayed with these characters over the years. They have waited for the truth to come out and now the pieces start to fall in to place and it’s so much fun to write and I hope it will be even more fun to watch.

One of the reasons we know Jane did not tell Grayson is because of the so-called rules placed upon her and she was given a guardian angel. Are the rules being thrown out? Does a guardian angel have any purpose any more?
JOSH: Great question. The rules as laid out by Fred (Ben Feldman) in the pilot episode were that Jane could not tell anyone. But Jane did violate the rules and told Stacy. And, of course, in that pilot episode, she explains why she told Stacy and Fred ultimately accepts her and protects her. But why again didn’t she tell Grayson? So while the rules aren’t thrown out, we understand why the rules were there in the first place. Paul (Justin Deeley), as our new angel, helps guide Jane through a series of choices that may or may not get her into more trouble.

Since this is the season where everything is kind of being addressed and brought out in the open, is Brittney (Natalie Hall) going to be back and addressing the fact that Deb as Jane stole her life?
JOSH: We haven’t finished writing the season, and right now we don’t have any definite plans to bring her back. But we have spoken with Natalie Hall, and if we can make it work, we’d love to have her back.

Just because that feels like an open door, as well, and might be fun to address that.
JOSH: Absolutely.

So what is Paul going to be doing?
JOSH: Paul is our lovable angel. Unlike the prior angels on the show, Paul is really more concerned with making Jane happy. The other two angels, Fred and Luke (Carter MacIntyre), always wanted Jane to follow the rules, do what she’s told. Whereas, Paul actually says, “I don’t care about rules” to Jane last season, “I just want what is best for you.” This season is interesting because Jane becomes more of a guardian angel to our angel, than our angel is a guardian angel to her. They grow a lot closer in that process and they also begin to bicker, almost like brothers and sisters. Jane has allowed Paul to live with them. They are very intertwined in each other’s lives. There’s some genuine conflicts between these two as they really fall for each other — in terms of just loving being around each other. In real life, both actors are such gifted physical comedians and they are both so funny, that its just been a joy to write scenes for the two of them together.

I am just trying to imagine down the road, as things go well for Jane and Grayson, where does Paul end up? Obviously, he wouldn’t be able to live with them, and maybe Grayson wouldn’t want Paul hovering around as much, and he wouldn’t understand Paul’s role in Jane’s life.
JOSH: Without giving too much away, I will say that in this season Grayson asks Jane point blank why Paul is living with them, and Jane decides she is going to tell Grayson the truth and there are some unexpected consequences in Jane’s determination to tell Grayson everything.

So there are some rules you can’t break!
JOSH: Yes, and we reestablish the rules in this season. But more than just laying out the rules, we lay out the reasons behind those rules. We understand that Jane is a rule-breaker. We’ve known that from the beginning. It’s more about, we had rules and why did Jane choose to follow some of them and not others. So that’s what Grayson is constantly challenging.

For those curious, will there be a chance for a happy ending for Jane and Grayson?
JOSH: There is absolutely a great chance, but the road to that happy ending is not easy and maybe what we consider a happy ending, is not right now the happy ending we’re headed towards. I think that even if someone has not seen the show before (and I hope people have), Season 6 is a very satisfying journey on its own. It’s very well thought out. I almost feel like the first 5 seasons serve as a platform for Season 6, and now the stage is set. So it’s so much fun to wind up the characters and let them go.

It certainly seems like you’re winding up Jane’s story. What about Stacy? You’ve blown the lid off of her life a little bit.
JOSH: Stacy is dealing with the challenges of being pregnant this season. Also she’s a single mother and she’s still attracted to Owen (Lex Medlin). At the end of last season, she thought it was best for her baby if she did not continue dating Owen. But her attraction for the man who is going to be the biological father of her child is pretty intense. So the dance of will-they-or-won’t-they definitely continues as they both struggle with their feelings.

We will also meet a new person in their environment, Belinda (Virginia Williams) who joins the firm. Is she taking Kim’s (Kate Levering) for a bit?
JOSH: Virginia’s character Belinda is introduced in the two-hour season premiere and she is absolutely lovely to the men in her life and with women, she’s like a bull in a china shop. She rubs Jane the wrong way immediately to the point that Jane really cannot stand her. But as a lawyer, Belinda is incredibly professional. She also appeals to Owen in all the right ways and she’s good for the firm. But her Achilles Heel is not appreciating Jane, and nothing will tick Jane off more than that.

That’s unfortunately how Jane and Kim started off before things thawed out in later seasons.
JOSH: There’s a lot of shades of Kim in the character of Belinda. I don’t think we sought out to write that, but once we got Virginia Williams to the set, there was just a naturally antipathy between these two characters that we ended up writing towards.

Is Belinda around for the entire season?
JOSH: No, she’s only around for a few episodes.

Will we get a chance to see Kim this season?
JOSH: Absolutely, Kim is a series regular. She returns in our second episode, a week after the two-hour premiere. I love Kate. I hope to work with her the rest of my career. She’s a fantastic actress and we just wanted to give her time with her baby. But now she’s back. We’re actually using Kate’s baby as Kim’s baby on the show, and that’s really great. She’s such a proud mom and her baby is such a cute baby — and you’ll see her on the show on April 6th.

Are there going to be other returning familiar faces this season?
JOSH: The big question of course is whether any of our prior guardian angels will be coming back. I can’t answer that, but I’d say the odds are pretty good. I love Fred. I love Luke. So there’s a chance we’ll see them. Then John Ratzenberger, who plays Kim’s dad, also comes back; and we’ll see Kim’s mother this season as well. Kim’s got some great episodes this season. Outside of that, we have Rick Springfield guest starring on the show. He plays a rock star who has been kicked out of his band and Jane has to represent him. In fact, Jane and Belinda represent him together in the March 30th episode. Rick was absolutely phenomenal. He’s hysterical and it’s incredible that he still walks into a room with such a presence.

Also guest-starring is Colin Egglesfield. Is he just guest-starring or will he be a recurring character this season?
JOSH: He’s certainly in our first episode on March 23rd. I love the actor and think he’s great. He’s also got a terrific fan base. On the show, his character really mucks up Owen’s life for a little while. So he’s kind of that blast from the past.

What about Teri (Margaret Cho)? She usually has her fingers in all the pies of what is going on at the firm.
JOSH: Season 6 is Margaret Cho’s biggest season to date. She’s got some of her own storyline, which is different for the show. In the past, Teri’s mainly assisted Jane in her cases or the other lawyers in their cases. But this season, she gets into trouble like she never has before. So she and Paul have a lot of scenes together. The two of them are kind of magical together. At one point in the season, Paul buys a Rolls Royce online for $100, and of course it’s all a scam and Teri gets intimately involved in that storyline.

Why hasn’t Teri ever figured out that there’s something different about Jane?
JOSH: Teri accepts Jane no matter what. She knows that ever since Jane got shot, she’s a been a bit unusual. But because Jane is such an absolute defender of Teri, and Teri knows she’ll go to the ends of the world and back for her and will do anything that Teri asks, in exchange Teri is her steadfast supporter. So no matter what Jane does or comes up with, Teri is there for her. Teri is kind of like the best friend or assistant that we all wish we had.

It always struck me as a little odd that Teri wouldn’t start to wonder about all these guys who hover around Jane and are always doing things for her. Why hasn’t she picked up on any of Jane’s angels?
JOSH: I think she’s a sucker for any cute guy and I think she just goes with the flow. She also has blind spot there. She also uses them. She bosses around Fred, and now she bosses around Paul, and she gets them to do her dirty work. So I think she sees it as a great win-win.

I could just see Teri’s eyes bugging out once she realizes that they were all angels right under her nose the whole time.
JOSH: That would be hilarious! One thing we do get to see with Teri this season is we get to meet one of her alternate personalities, named Cassandra Muffintop. That will be in episode five. She speaks with a British accent and it’s Margaret Cho at her absolute best.

You all much be having so much fun, just saying, “This is it. Let’s go for the kitchen sink, what else do we want to do this season?”
JOSH: (Laughs) You’re absolutely right. Even the legal cases. All of our legal cases could be real. They are based in truth and it’s amazing the cases we’re now free to write that are ripped from the headlines. You’ll scratch your head and think, “I can’t believe this really happened.”

What made you want to embrace some thornier cases for the show this season?
JOSH: I think our characters are at their best when they are grappling with real life issues. It helps ground them. It helps ground the storytelling. So the cases we picked, both are reflective thematically of our characters’ lives, but also tell a bigger story of the human condition. I just love throwing our characters, who are our heroes, in the middle of all that muck so that they get to argue on the side of right.

That’s really beautiful. That’s probably one of the reasons I have been drawn to the show over the years. I love the characters and all of the fun that they have, but the cases also tug at you as well.
JOSH: As a former lawyer, I’m drawn to those cases that really explore the human condition. At the heart of the show, it’s all about identity; and if you parcel out the cases we have tackled or the personalities of the clients, often we deal with issues of identity — who we are in this world and what we want to be. Our goals, our desires, our dreams. At the heart of our cases are all those issues.

If you were describe the overall season for Season 6, what comes to mind?
JOSH: It’s by far our best season yet. I think as a writer that it’s a dream to write for these characters and tell there stories and let their lives come to fruition. When a show starts with a secret and you keep that secret for 5 years, finally letting that secret out of the bag reinvigorates everything. It invigorates the writing, the characters, the storytelling. It allows us to tell a season that cannot be missed.

I always had a sense about the show that it was always about love; just that there was so much love embedded into the show, in the storylines, in the characters. Will that love continue to shine through in this final season?
JOSH: Absolutely, that’s a great way to put it. Thank you. I always say the show is about identity, but you’re right, the show is really about love. And I’m not just talking about romantic love. I’m talking about friendship. The love that Jane and Stacy have for each other, and the love that Jane and Teri have for each other. That is deep friendship. I think it is the kind of love that we all yearn for — the connections that we all yearn for. I think that if the show can help inspire people to love more, then I’ve done my job as a writer.

It is a beautiful show. I’m going to miss it when its over. It doesn’t feel like it’s time for it to be over.
JOSH: (Laughs) Well, who knows what could happen in the future. Anything could happen. Nothing would surprise me with this show. Here’s one big hint about this season though: there’s a huge twist in episode 8. It’s a game-changer. The viewers are going to go nuts!

On that encouraging and teasing note from Josh, if anything DROP DEAD DIVA has taught us, miracles can happen. Its fans have rallied behind the show before and continue to do so, so maybe there is a guardian angel looking out for DROP DEAD DIVA.

So to see every miraculously beautiful and loving minute of the show, be sure to tune in for its 2-hour premiere of DROP DEAD DIVA Season 6 on Sunday, March 23rd at 9:00 p.m. on Lifetime. There will be surprises, shocks and unexpected love a bloom.

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