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6 Shows like Drop Dead Diva: Second Chance Road

Laura Light itcherIf you think there are no second chances in life, then you need to check out ‘Being Erica’, ‘Samantha Who?’ and ‘Dead Like Me’, all shows like ‘Drop Dead Diva’ that feature clever, poignant and downright funny second chances at life. ~ Laura Light

The Merry-Go-Round

Despite how unoriginal the premise to the show may be, the comedic approach certainly stands out.

‘Drop Dead Diva’ tells the story of a vapid aspiring model (Brooke Elliot) who is killed in a car crash and gets brought back to life as an intelligent, overweight lawyer, hoping to find the meaning of inner beauty.

This is a positive and life-affirming show about good people doing the right thing while confronting prejudices, stereotypes and other social injustices. Look out for Margaret Cho, who plays Jane’s assistant, and A-list guest stars like Rosie O’Donnell, Tim Gunn and Elliot Gould.

So if you like your TV shows with a bit of heavenly intervention, then these next three series similar to ‘Drop Dead Diva’ will be right up your street.


Shows Similar to ‘Drop Dead Diva’…

‘Being Erica’ (CBC, 2009-2011)

We are the sum of our decisions, and as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters…

Erin Karpluk stars as Erica Strange, a woman who starts seeing a counsellor (Michael Riley) to deal with her regrets, then discovers that he can take her back in time to change things.

When I first read the premise, I instantly thought this was another show for the ‘Sex and the City’ crowd, but how wrong I was. It’s naturally lighthearted and funny while Karpluk’s Erica is wistful without being whiny, insecure or needy. She is also a virtual chameleon who can adapt to whatever situation the show requires.

Please don’t dismiss this as a woman-only show; it’s got spunk, and is easily as funny as ‘Friends’. (There, I said it!)

Similarity Match: 95%
Like ‘Drop Dead Diva’ both women are giving second chances to improve their life; however, this show plays it out using time travel, while ‘Drop Dead Diva’ uses body swaps and guardian angels.

‘Samantha Who?’ (ABC, 2007-2009)

Oh no, no. It’s okay. It’s sort of like having a surprise party every single day. Like finding out about us, surprise…

Samantha Newly (Christina Applegate), the young vice president of a real-estate firm, is forced to start life over after a horrific hit-and-run accident leaves her with amnesia.

As she reconnects with acquaintances in her old life, however, Sam is disconcerted to discover that she apparently was a self-centered, narcissistic witch with no successful relationships to speak of. But she wants to be good now so she sets out to make amends with friends and family, including on-again, off-again ex-boyfriend Todd (who now dates her roommate).

Yep, I’ve watched all thirty-five episodes of this show and wish there were more! Its belly-hurting funny, yet well thought out. We see Samantha really making an effort to change her life around but the best bits are the flashbacks when you really get to see what a horrid person she truly was.

Similarity Match: 85%
Both shows offer flashbacks of our hero’s life before the change, but whereas Jayne in ‘Drop Dead Diva’ is trying to reconnect with her past, Sam wants to forget it entirely.

‘Dead Like Me’ (Showtime, 2003-2004)

Life sucks, and then you die. And then it still sucks…

A college dropout, Georgia “George” Lass (Ellen Muth) is killed on her first day at a temp agency by a toilet seat that falls from the MIR space station. Upon death, she is recruited by a team of grim reapers – the undead who mix among the living and take people’s souls just before they die.

Told from the point of view of George, whose voice-over commentary sometimes contradicts what is happening on the screen, her intelligence and advanced maturity give a world-weary “whatever” to the endless bizarre situations she must deal with – and there are a lot.

Humor of various kinds is the predominant emotion but things often get serious and philosophical in a believable and intelligent fashion. If you like witty banter (think ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’), you’ll be hooked from episode one.

Similarity Match: 80%
Like ‘Drop Dead Diva’, this show focuses on a young woman who loses her life thanks to a freak accident, but in ‘Dead Like Me’ there’s no body swapping, just dead recruiting.


If You Like ‘Drop Dead Diva’, You Will Like…

I love series like ‘Drop Dead Diva’ that focus on three-dimensional characters with humor. Nothing reels me in more than watching a character change their views and personality as the series unfolds. So if, like me, you like seeing a lawyer with a conscience, then these next three shows are for you.

‘Shark’ (CBS, 2006-2008)

The only time you can be with a man in a hotel room alone is if you’re married or I’m dead or both…

Sebastian Stark (James Woods) is an L.A. hot-shot lawyer who leaves his lucrative career as a defender of rich criminals to join the DA, where he prosecutes the very villains he used to defend.

James Woods is epic in this show! His character as a strong-willed and determined attorney that doesn’t take “no” for an answer or likes to be challenged, is very entertaining. The show itself explores the proverbial dark side of the American legal system, and instead of showing us some fairytale life of the rich and famous, we are given a rare view of the criminal underbelly.

Like ‘Drop Dead Diva’ we have a lawyer with a heart, but the focus is more on the legal case than the protagonist’s private life.

‘Eli Stone’ (ABC, 2008-2009)

Are you breaking up with me? ‘Cause I-I was just diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, and that would be really bad timing on your part…

San Francisco lawyer Eli Stone (Jonny Lee Miller) begins to see strange things, which leads him to discover he has a brain aneurysm. But his visions lead him to accept cases with little monetary gain but a lot of moral goodness.

Watch out for George Michael appearing as himself in a few episodes. Warning, though: it does have a penchant for song and dance, Broadway style, making this show really spontaneous.

This is a truly great show. It’s not a bunch of senseless jokes or sappy, typical, Hollywood entertainment – it’s a comedic insight into a drama-filled world, giving you a sense of wonder and hope.

Both our heroes break out into song and dance at times, only one sings about her plight as an ex-model in a lawyer’s body trying to fit in, while the other hears music he sometimes which he couldn’t.

‘Ed’ (NBC, 2000-2004)

I am a lawyer, I own a bowling alley. Two separate things…

This is about a man’s search for personal redemption by not looking where everyone’s head says to go, but where his heart takes him. Ed Stevens (Thomas Cavanagh) has the worst day of his life when he is fired from his job as a hotshot contract attorney and finds his wife with another man. He uses this as the opportunity to overcome his fears and pursue his dreams.

This is a one-of-a-kind gem: a show that’s quirky, hip, goofy and smart all at the same time. The thing I most like about this show? It’s Ed himself. After the devastating loss of his job and marriage, he doesn’t seem (too) bitter. Instead, he’s an optimistic, clever, funny, likeable guy who’s part underdog and part hero.

Like ‘Drop Dead Diva’, ‘Ed’ is about living your life after a devastating event; but whereas the former is a body swap victim looking to make a difference, the latter is all about staying true to yourself.


Heaven Is a Place on Earth

I love TV shows with a strong moral message, and each of these fit that bill perfectly. While all but ‘Shark’ are comedies, this doesn’t take away the serious message that these shows are trying to convey.

What other funny yet message-driven TV shows have I missed?

Let me know in the comments below.

Hi ya, I’m Laura, a BA Creative Writing and Film graduate. A self-confessed geek, you’re normally find me tucked away in the back row at the cinema, with vast amounts of chocolate and surfing the net on my phone. A freelance writer specialising in digital marketing and audio, when I’m not creating new blogs, I’m trying to dream up my next big idea!
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