A popular insult to lob at a big screen movie is that it resembles a “Lifetime Movie,” and it’s true that some of them seem to be Lifetime Movies (TV movies as originated on the Lifetime channel or its spinoffs) with better actors, not to mention bigger budgets.
If you want to be cynical, you could also put forth the opinion that say, Oscar-bait movies, set in stuffy European countries (the kind which clog the big screen in the pre-Oscar season) are often Lifetime Movies dressed up in fancier clothes. Certain topics, whether they are overcoming a disability or domestic violence, often seem innately “classier” when they aren’t set in the plain old United States with run-of-the mill American actors.
In any event, an alien visiting Earth and engaging in a Lifetime Movie marathon would certainly come away with some odd ideas about human nature, gender roles and addictive behaviors. Including the following:
1. Full-blown addictions happen practically overnight.
Say, you have a teenage girl who aspires to be an Olympic gymnast. All it will take to drop her down the rabbit hole of eating disorders is her coach telling her that she needs to lose five pounds. Because teens in Lifetime movies never do anything by halves.
2. Men are either brutes, wusses or useless when it comes to helping the plucky heroine.
Men in these movies are always alpha male bullies, nice guys (the generic kind or the New Age Sensitive type), or completely unhelpful. (“What do you mean, your ex-husband is lurking around your house with a gun? Maybe he’s just there to pick up some tools on his way to going hunting.”)
3. A woman is overwhelmingly likely to have her life placed in peril at least once.
Whether it’s being snatched from the hospital by a deranged nurse who can’t conceive, dealing with middle school bullying, getting lured into a life of prostitution as a fresh faced teen, or being a mother with an alcoholic batterer for a spouse, all the real bad stuff in these movies always happens to women.
4. Getting divorced or moving to a new town is enough to set your child down the path to ruin.
Most young people in real life manage to successfully weather these events, but in Lifetime Movies, it’s a sure bet that the child will wind up on the streets, in juvenile detention, a hospital or even locked in a basement somewhere.
5. New acquaintances, no matter how friendly, are going to eventually pose a real problem.
If your child makes a new friend, he or she is going to introduce them to some pretty bad habits. If you’re a mother who’s new to town, and a friendly guy from next door comes over to invite you and the kids to a barbecue, it’s a sure bet you’ll discover that he’s bugged your house and been videotaping you. (And that the authorities won’t care.)
6. Unorthodox “experts” are always more helpful than their run-of-the-mill counterparts.
Anyone who thinks “outside the box” is the one who’s going to find a cure for your fatally ill child, free you from prison where you’ve been unfairly tossed without a fair trial, etc.
7. Crying wolf can destroy even a tight-knit family unit.
OK, this one’s true.
8. It’s overwhelmingly likely that your family and friends are keeping some life-changing secrets from you.
Like, your parents could have kidnapped you as an infant, and your real family is still searching for you. Hey, it happens.
9. Your neighbors can, and will, change overnight from allies to foes.
All it takes for them to graffiti your garage or toss a brick through your window is for your daughter to become involved in a sex scandal or your child to develop a baffling disease. If you do something that attracts negative public attention, it’s best to move or build a moat around your property.
10. We accept the reality that we’re given.
OK, this is true, too. But there have been some pretty bizarre examples. Like the mom who keeps insisting that her child is still alive, forcing the rest of the family to pretend, as well. I suppose this could happen in real life, but it’s kind of hard to imagine.
(End note: I was going to add a rule that “The Internet is inherently unsafe,” because for awhile, there were a bunch of a movies suggesting that even a chat room for stamp collectors was really a haven for pedophiles or pimps. But it has been some time since I’ve watched a Lifetime Movie, and I’m sure the powers-that-be know better now.)