I've been a huge fan of Lifetime: Television for Women since I was, like, ten -- all for the movies, of course (the rest of the programming is pretty "meh," except for "Dance Moms" and that terrible/awesome new train wreck of a reality show, "Pretty Wicked Moms").
Lifetime movies are such perfectly insane little encapsulations of the ABSOLUTE CRAZIEST, MOST DRAMATIC DRAMA that could ever conceivably happen in an otherwise fairly ordinary (but extraordinarily good-looking, obvs) woman's life.
No, they're not the sharpest feminist critiques; they don't really try to be. And yes, sometimes (a lot of times?) the female characters are either total victims or martyrs. But that's part of the fun -- there's absolutely ZERO nuance. It's all black or white -- and ALL ENTERTAINING.
One of my most reliable ways to unwind is to watch a Lifetime movie (preferably more than one, actually) with my friend Sarah VW, who is equally obsessed with them. All of this is preferably done while cackling, hollering at the TV, looking at each other incredulously, and going back into the kitchen 3000 times for more things to eat. And without further ado, here are our favorite five of the moment. Sarah VW is awesome and she wrote this with me.
Do you or have you watched many Lifetime movies in your day? Be honest. (All images from Lifetime.)
This one is a classic -- for a reason. Laurel, played by Tori Spelling (ahem -- a stellar reason to watch the movie all on its own!) is a college student obsessed with exercise and body image and weight. She meets Kevin, a guy who will do ANYTHING for her -- except give her a little time to herself. When she brings Kevin home, her mother is instantly concerned (that's mama's intuition for you). It turns out Kevin's real name is Billy and he stole another student's identity. He's also an ultra-charming pathological liar, credit card scammer -- and MURDERER! Therefore, he becomes more and more obsessive and nutzoid in his passion for Laurel.
Eventually, Laurel’s mom goes to the police and discovers that Kevin murdered his ex-girlfriend. On this particular day, Kevin has chosen to take Laurel to the lake and murder her, too. Luckily, Laurel hits him with an oar and paddles down the river.
"A Mother’s Nightmare" (2012)
A teenage student and ward of the state, Vanessa starts at a new high school and immediately (no, like, INSTANTLY -- why does work that way in these flicks?) meets Chris, a non-popular but high-achieving track star with an oh, so promising future. Chris is, like, TOTALLY SHOCKED that a girl THAT gorgeous would be into him, and they start dating instantly.
Very quickly, Vanessa begins pouting and demanding that he miss track practice and study time to make out with her. His grades drop, he misses track practice and his mother begins to worry.
Vanessa works at a dog kennel, without any supervision, in the dark. She takes Chris to her work, and gives him her father’s ring (sentimental moment!). Then she proceeds to get him drunk, drug him with PCP, handcuff him to a bathtub and film him completely freaking out.
Later, when Chris is in bed with a broken knee, Vanessa Skypes him and acts sexy, and he agrees to go on a hike with her, despite his injury. In the woods, Vanessa offers him orange soda that's secretly laced with PCP (she's clearly a fan of the stuff). When the drug kicks in, Vanessa convinces Chris that, if he wants to truly understand her, he has to slash his arm with a razor blade. He does it and says ”I can’t feel anything” again and again. We learn that Vanessa dated several teenage boys who died or were seriously injured. We won't spoil the incredibly dramatic conclusion for you; watch that sh*t online.
"Cyber Seduction" (2005)
Justin is a 16-year-old school swim star whose pretty girlfriend, Amy, is not ready to have sex. When his friend sends him a link to a website where their schoolmate, Monica, has posted sexytime videos of herself, Justin is captivated. Soon afterward, he sees a porn film at a friend’s party and subsequently starts visiting XXX sites. Very quickly he spirals into watching porn CONSTANTLY and drinking massive amounts of energy drinks (oooh, rebellious), which he hides in his desk.
Justin’s grades plummet and his swimming suffers. After Chris shows some guys at school an S&M video, his classmates begin to call him “porn freak." The swim coach places him on probation.
His mother begins to lose her mind and takes the computer out of Justin’s room after she finds a DVD in there titled -- wait for it -- "Virgin Vaginas." In response, Justin decides to start watching his porn at school instead.
The more Justin watches porn, the less time he spends with Amy. He becomes fixated on Monica, who has a crush on him. Monica invites Justin over and attempts to seduce him. Just as at they're about to have sex, Justin freaks and says he doesn't think his first time should be like this. Monica does not take the rejection well; she screams at him, then bashes her head off the sink faucet and bleeds everywhere.
Some guys from school attack him because they heard rumors he raped Monica. Justin gets depressed and drowns himself in the school pool.
"She’s Too Young" (2004)
High school student Hannah gives in to peer pressure and gives Nick, whom she has a crush on, a blow job on their second date. Although she refuses to participate in an orgy (!!) on the third date, Hannah’s mother begins to worry. Hannah’s friend, Dawn, who also hooked up with Nick, finds out she has syphilis and school nurses test everyone at school for the disease. Nick is somehow revealed to be the source of the syphilis outbreak, but refuses a test, making fun of the students who did it.
When Hannah tests positive for syphilis, her mother crusades to alert other parents that their kids are behaving badly, but is frustrated when she realizes some parents do not care. Hannah feels uncomf around her mother and leaves her house one night without permission. Feeling lonely, she tries to have sex with her friend Tommy, but he stops her because he thinks they are too young.
Hannah goes to a party, looking for Becca, but is unable to find her. The host of the party tells Hannah he thinks she knows where Becca is, but, when they come to an empty room, he tries to have sex with her instead. Tommy appears, takes a picture of the guy and threatens to send it to the cops. He takes Hannah home and calls her parents, who are relieved to see her. Hannah apologizes and all is well. The final scene, however, features Dawn’s younger sister sneaking into Dawn’s room to try on her revealing clothes. THE MAKINGS OF A NEW GENERATION OF SLUTS!!!
"The Perfect Teacher" (2010)
When 17-year-old Devon develops a crush on her new teacher, Jim, she begins to obsess over him, imagining them kissing and falling in love. Jim is divorced and recently learned his ex-wife was moving to California and planning to take their daughter with her. He is stressed but comforted by his newish girlfriend.
After he accompanies Devon’s team on a trip, she pretends to be upset and manipulates him into taking care of her. Devon becomes Jim’s TA and works in his office. One day, Jim’s daughter’s school calls asking him to pick her up, and Devon answers. Instead of alerting Jim, Devon decides to fetch Jim’s daughter herself, delivering her to a bewildered and slightly disturbed Jim.
Devon begins to follow Jim and sneak into his house. After she learns he has a girlfriend, she hits her with her car, and kills her. Jim is angry, obviously, and tells Devon to leave him alone. In response, Devon kidnaps Jim’s daughter and drives her around randomly, stopping only when Jim agrees to talk to her. Devon finally is arrested and the last scene of the movie is a shot of her flirting with a guard.