For decades, Lifetime movies have always been the punchline of a continuous joke about the quality of made-for-TV movies.
I recall watching one years ago with my wife. Like most Lifetime movies I don’t have any idea what it was about, because the years have taught us Lifetime movies are rarely memorable. The one thing we both do remember about this particular film was a quirk with the cinematography, where every single scene before a commercial break ended with the camera panning up to the corner of the shot and fading to white. There was never anything interesting up there. It was just the corner. You’d see the edge of a ceiling, a light fixture, a tree, whatever happened to be in the top left corner. Every single commercial break. Tilt away to the corner and fade out. It was silly.
(Come to think of it, it may have been Fatal Lessons: The Good Teacher starring Erika Eleniak from Baywatch. Even if that wasn’t the movie with the tilting camera, it still sucked hard. The first on-screen casualty was the adorable family dog, which is a terrible way to start anything. And ffs, the lead is Erika Eleniak from Baywatch. Shauni McClain. You know that’s crap.)
Couple absurd filmmaking practices with pretty much every movie having the same plot (woman meets man who rapes her and punches her daughter and does cocaine and has sex with zebras and murders the neighbor and waves his penis in traffic and sets fire to the house while painting pictures of tortured leprechauns on the chimney and smashing whiskey bottles in his underpants – or something like that) has put Lifetime movies into their own genre. They’re what you watch when you’re home sick from work and have no other options in the middle of a weekday. They aren’t to be taken seriously. It’s Television For Women, as they say. Specifically abused, pregnant, teenage, homeless women at their most vulnerable.
Last weekend my wife and I had a few days off due to not feeling well and we watched two Lifetime films. The first was Sexting in Suburbia, starring the hot-and-almost-40 leggy Liz Vassey, who nerds like myself know as Captain Liberty in the live-action version of The Tick with Patrick Warburton, and as former Vegas CSI tech Wendy Simms during seasons 6-11. This film follows a grieving mother uncovering secrets about her daughter who decided to hang herself after being severely bullied for sending a naked picture to her boyfriend to alleviate his boner she pushed away at the beginning of the movie. As mom comes to terms with her daughter’s death and interrogates the town, people smash the windows in her house, cover the school bathrooms in graffiti, write WHORE on her daughter’s headstone and all sorts of other nasty things. Wowwie wow! It’s basically what My Girl should have been in 1991.
The second gem was Walking the Halls, a flick about high school girls who dabble in prostitution, focusing primarily on one innocent cutie who joins the gang because the lure of degradation and making some quick bill is way more enticing than the boring life of a straight-A student with dysfunctional upper class parents. The title makes no sense because there are like two shots of a school during the whole movie, but whatever. There are guns, an attempted murder-suicide and plenty of young girls in skimpy outfits. It’s basically what My Girl should have been in 1991.
THE POINT IS BOTH WERE AMAZING.
I was all like this:
When the girls in the movies were all like this:
Strangely, I saw this tweet the next day from @hateyouprobably:
Which was followed by this:
That’s right. Rob f’n Lowe. In a movie about psychopathic former Illinois police sergeant Drew Peterson. He’s in real things. And Kaley Cuoco. Also in real things. We’ve come a long way from needing to cast Erika Eleniak in leading roles and tilting to the empty corner of shots to segue into commercials.
Sure, Drew Peterson isn’t changing Lifetime’s plot format too much. It’s still a biopic about a guy who has (probably) murdered two of his wives, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be all sorts of worth it. I’m pretty sure Lifetime is working on expanding their operation and putting more money into their films. It’s time to get more husbands watching. Hell, you’d think they would want men to get into these movies. They’re like training videos on what not to do in life.
Television for women? Pah-lease. I am a member of the Pen15 club and I’m going to be all over Drew Peterson like chimpanzees on plastic buckets. (Note: I have a cousin named Drew Peterson, so that last sentence is sort of weird and incestual out of context.)
Watch their films. They’re better than you think. And even if they’re not, you know one thing is true: they’re going to keep making them anyway. You can’t stop them. They’ve been doing it for decades and they will do it for decades still. That’s power.
Perhaps they need a new slogan inspired by their own material: Lifetime. We’re untouchable, bitch.
This entry is written with completely equal amounts of honesty and snark. Both are fully authentic. Lifetime productions are that dynamic.