Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?
January 16, 2015 6:38 AM   Subscribe

From guilty pleasure to Emmy Awards: The delightfully weird history of Lifetime movies
posted by almostmanda (64 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
And you didn't link the Can you tell a fake Lifetime movie from a real one? quiz?

14/20.

And I only knew Deadly Sibling Rivalry because Charisma Carpenter plays the twins.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
posted by Katemonkey at 6:45 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


“We would literally sit around a room and talk about all the horrible things that could happen to teens
posted by Greg Nog at 6:47 AM on January 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was just about to come in here and mention Mother, May I Sleep With Danger before I saw the post title.

Still the greatest movie title of all time. OF ALL TIME.
posted by kmz at 6:49 AM on January 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Also, oh my god, I have just discovered that this movie exists.

Please someone tell me it was as terrible and wonderful as it sounds.
posted by Katemonkey at 6:53 AM on January 16, 2015


I scored 12 out of 20 on the quiz and I've never watched Lifetime in my....er, lifetime.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:54 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mefi's own Linda Holmes has done at least one Lifetime Movie quiz on Pop Culture Happy Hour, if I remember correctly. (The only reason I might not remember correctly would be that I was laughing too hard to hear all the details.) I was actually surprised that this article, and the quiz in the first comment, weren't written by her!
posted by theatro at 6:55 AM on January 16, 2015


It's funny how when you put men in extreme and unlikely situations with bad acting which viewers find compelling anyway, they're called "action movies" and they play in all the theatres. Do that with "women's" movies, and they're "a running joke within the industry" that stays on cable.
posted by clawsoon at 6:58 AM on January 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


I must say, I was quite thrilled by the end of the article, concerning the high use of lady directors like Allison Anders at the network. I also may or may not have teared up at the Steel Magnolias trailer
posted by Greg Nog at 7:01 AM on January 16, 2015


I'm still bitter that they got Alison Anders to make a June Carter Cash biopic and then cast that Alaskan scourge Jewel in the title role. (Really? Was Jennifer Damiano not available?)

Between that and the Anna Nicole Smith biopic, I'm starting to wonder if Lifetime is becoming the network for aging female indie directors.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:03 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh my gosh, I just realized that's Sally Draper in the Flowers in the Attic trailer.
posted by almostmanda at 7:12 AM on January 16, 2015


I’m sorry about your terrible limp. But it’s not really a movie.

Silenced all my life.
posted by arcticseal at 7:13 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, oh my god, I have just discovered that this movie exists.

Please someone tell me it was as terrible and wonderful as it sounds.
posted by Katemonkey at 9:53 AM on January 16


Adding to my Netflix streaming queue. I'll get back to you.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 7:19 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


From Emmy Awards to Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever: Let's Not Ride This Artistic Credibility Sleigh Too Far Just Yet
posted by delfin at 7:30 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


What's The Matter With Tanya?
posted by The Whelk at 7:30 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also “Lizzie Borden Took an Ax" is pretty great pot-boiler melodrama if you like old timey murderings, gothic southern rock, lesbian subtexts, and reasonable adherence to history.
posted by The Whelk at 7:36 AM on January 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yeah, Lizzie Borden was way less dreadful than I assuked it would be. Definitely worth checking out.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:38 AM on January 16, 2015


And you didn't link the Can you tell a fake Lifetime movie from a real one? quiz?

Good Job, Brain! also did a Lifetime Movie quiz segment last year.

Baby Monitor: Sound of Fear
posted by zamboni at 7:44 AM on January 16, 2015


It's easy to sneer at Lifetime, but one of the things that jumped out at me right away was that it also has done three biopics of African-American women, plus the black version of Steel Magnolias. That may be a deliberate choice on their part to counter the assumption that it's the White Women In Peril Channel, but I don't think it's a bad choice regardless.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:47 AM on January 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


It's funny how when you put men in extreme and unlikely situations with bad acting which viewers find compelling anyway, they're called "action movies" and they play in all the theatres. Do that with "women's" movies, and they're "a running joke within the industry" that stays on cable.

Just a side note, Lifetime movies are also occasionally a haven for good actresses that aren't the right age/attractiveness for Hollywood anymore; they can have really great acting.
posted by Jpfed at 7:54 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?

Man, the Misfits got weird.
posted by boo_radley at 7:55 AM on January 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


Lifetime is the best for those times when you find yourself in a small town cheap hotel room with beer and nothing to do. Because that is when you most need to see one of those over the top "this is the worst.. this is the worst... THIS IS THE BEST" kind of movies.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:01 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't forget Kidnapped By Danger, Colon, The Avery Jessup Story.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:01 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


14/20

I should have done better...I have always loved Lifetime and their wonderfully terrible movies. I'm now addicted to the Escape channel, which shows all murder, all day long in the form of 48 hours, Dateline, and Unsolved Mysteries. Marketed towards women. They apparently did their market research, and this is what women want. Interesting.
posted by Punctual at 8:01 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's funny how when you put men in extreme and unlikely situations with bad acting which viewers find compelling anyway, they're called "action movies" and they play in all the theatres. Do that with "women's" movies, and they're "a running joke within the industry" that stays on cable.

Well, no. Not exactly. There are action movies with female leads, too; just last year, think of Lucy, Divergent, Hunger Games (all of them, obviously), plus a whole cavalcade of lesser-known ones.

The joke around Lifetime has always been, in my experience, that the male figure, whoever he is, however nice he is, must be evil. "Don volunteers at homeless shelters, gives food to the poor, sits with dying grandmothers in his spare time, works at a non-profit providing food aid to Africa... but has a dark secret."
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:02 AM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Man, Yaya DaCosta has come a long way since she had to apologize to a hat. Respeito indeed.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:05 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The joke around Lifetime has always been, in my experience, that the male figure, whoever he is, however nice he is, must be evil. "Don volunteers at homeless shelters, gives food to the poor, sits with dying grandmothers in his spare time, works at a non-profit providing food aid to Africa... but has a dark secret."

Unless he's pictured hanging Christmas lights. Then he's the one!
posted by Jpfed at 8:33 AM on January 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Oh, you should totally watch the Lizzie Borden one. Completely enjoyable & a lot gorier than I expected, even knowing it was about, y'know, an axe murderer. Lizzy's dad is played by Stephen McHattie from (mefi favorite) Pontypool.

I had to go to a conference during a heatwave last summer and the best part of the trip was sitting in my freezing hotel room, eating room service & watching PETALS ON THE WIND in a bathrobe with my hair in a towel. Delightful!
posted by mochapickle at 8:35 AM on January 16, 2015


Who produced these Lifetime-style movies before Lifetime was a thing? Because I remember as a teenager watching Corin Nemec (because he was cute in Eerie, Indiana) in I Know My First Name is Stephen (boy is kidnapped and grows up with another family; reunited with his real family in his teens) and Megan Follows (because I adored Anne of Green Gables) in a movie about falling in love with her stepbrother. Probably called something like "Forbidden Lurrrrve".

Presumably these are both examples of actors wanting to break out of their previous roles/stereotypes by doing something dark.
posted by tracicle at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I consider Lifetime Movies the spiritual descendants of the late, lamented ABC Afterschool Special and Movie of the Week.

Poor ABC, forever playing catch-up to CBS and NBC, even in the 70s when they had a few years on top, totally cornered the made-for-TV market for at least a decade and some change. They did the incest movie whose title I can't remember now, and wife abuse movie The Burning Bed with Farrah Fawcett, and seemingly a billion others. I'm recalling an ad for one of their old Movies of the Week with Avery Schrieber, Brian Keith and another "Hey, it's that guy!" character actor shrieking "DON'T CALL ME AN EX-CON!!!" Must have been 5 or 6 when that was on. So many "social issue" pictures, so horribly cast and overacted.
posted by droplet at 8:47 AM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love Lifetime movies. My sister is 3 years older than me, and we never got along when we were growing up. She was basically always yelling at me for something whenever we were in the same room, and then I'd burst into tears and tell on her.

The only time we could stand being around each other was when there was a good Lifetime movie on. We would sit in our family room for hours on a Saturday afternoon watching those movies and forget how much we hated each other.

Now we have a great relationship, but I'm not sure we would ever have had any common ground when we were younger without those dumb movies.
posted by elvissa at 8:48 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


USA Network used to show similar movies, though not as much aimed at women. By which I mean the woman was frequently the villain. My favorite USA Network movie of all time was Buried Alive.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:49 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah the action movie thing

I think there's an interesting parallel here in the direct-to-video action movies of past-their-prime former action stars like Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, etc or guys like Lorenzo Lamas who made careers out of go-nowhere terrible action movies.

But no doubt there's a kind of depressing history suggesting men and teenaged boys are more than willing to spend $20 to go and see stuff go "boom" no matter the context, which suggests to me nothing is gonna change anytime soon.
posted by Hoopo at 8:54 AM on January 16, 2015


It's such a fun piece (and their attention to a diverse audience is spot-on and really interesting, and has totally blown up in the last couple years), but I'm heartbroken she didn't include my beloved Deadly Spa. Which is about a deadly spa.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:57 AM on January 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's funny how when you put men in extreme and unlikely situations with bad acting which viewers find compelling anyway, they're called "action movies" and they play in all the theatres. Do that with "women's" movies, and they're "a running joke within the industry" that stays on cable.

I think the perfect antipode, right down to their cable origins, is SyFy original movies. For every My Stepson, My Lover there's a Mansquito, for every Deadly Sibling Rivalry there's a Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys. And every once in a while you hit giddy heights, and Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?/Sharknado is born.

if you start a Kickstarter for Mother, May I Sleep With Sharknado? I will abandon all my worldly goods and follow you to the ends of the earth
posted by Shepherd at 8:58 AM on January 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


i love this post. i love the love for the lifetime (formerly, yes, abc) movie. i forgot about ricci's borden so i'll have to seek that out. now i want us to all do each others hair and giggle and eat snacks and watch gory, disturbing, problematic movies for days.
posted by nadawi at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


There are usually fewer explosions in Lifetime movies, so they're more "drama" or "suspense" than "action."

Now if I was watching a Lifetime movie and there were some scenes of a woman gleefully blowing up an entire town, one building at a time (a town that had Wronged Her, of course), well. That would be something I could not stop watching.

I am imagining lots of scenes of pouring gasoline out, while cackling maniacally. Then the walk-away, while the BOOM happens.

You could call it Playing with Dynamite. Or A Woman Wronged.
posted by emjaybee at 9:01 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I consider Lifetime Movies the spiritual descendants of the late, lamented ABC Afterschool Special and Movie of the Week.

Definitely. Growing up, my Mom always reserved the TV for what she called "The Disease of the Week".
posted by Ella Fynoe at 9:03 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: old timey murderings, gothic southern rock, lesbian subtexts, and reasonable adherence to history.
posted by Gelatin at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm heartbroken she didn't include my beloved Deadly Spa. Which is about a deadly spa.

Is the spa sentient or..?

Nevermind, you have apparently written at length about this already.
posted by almostmanda at 9:06 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also “Lizzie Borden Took an Ax" is pretty great pot-boiler melodrama if you like old timey murderings, gothic southern rock, lesbian subtexts, and reasonable adherence to history.

You just tapped so many of my buttons.
posted by maxsparber at 9:17 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I remember someone somewhere calling Lifetime the "Men Are No Damned Good" Network.

A sort of proto Lifetime movie was The Girl Most Likely To... starring a young Stockard Channing and co-written by Joan Rivers.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:37 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]



I think the perfect antipode, right down to their cable origins, is SyFy original movies.


OH YEAH. If you have a special place in your heart for the Worst Thing You Have Ever Seen, be sure to catch Pegasus vs Chimera. Don't expend any additional energy seeking it out and definitely do not spend money. But it is sooooooooo baaaaaaad.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:37 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you have a special place in your heart for the Worst Thing You Have Ever Seen, be sure to catch Pegasus vs Chimera.
Or Mammoth with Summer Glau.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:12 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lizzie Borden is sort of amazing, you just have to be prepared to go with the random southern rock soundtrack.

There was a period of about four months a few years back in one of my partner's worse depression episodes, where he could not summon the energy to do anything but watch TV, and for a significant chunk of that time he got obsessed with Lifetime movies. For a while there I think we watched every. single. Lifetime. movie. that was on. Needless to say we just took this quiz together and did very, very well.
posted by Stacey at 10:22 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ricci's Borden was terrible if you are up on the Borden case at all. Lizzie Borden was a stout square-faced woman, not a big-eyed waif like Ricci. But McHattie was good, and there are worse ways on TV to kill a couple hours of your time.

As with Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray, there's an interesting tension here between the fact that products for women are often systematically devalued and mocked, and we should push back against that, yet so many of those products are really, genuinely terrible.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:39 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


> Don't forget Kidnapped By Danger, Colon, The Avery Jessup Story.

Not to mention A Dog Took My Face And Gave Me A Better Face To Change The World: The Celeste Cunningham Story .
posted by Monochrome at 10:57 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


"What? No. Of course you can't sleep with danger. Duh. Why are we even having this conversation?" -Mother
posted by vibrotronica at 11:00 AM on January 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


emjaybee: if I was watching a Lifetime movie and there were some scenes of a woman gleefully blowing up an entire town, one building at a time (a town that had Wronged Her, of course), well. That would be something I could not stop watching.

I am imagining lots of scenes of pouring gasoline out, while cackling maniacally. Then the walk-away, while the BOOM happens.

You could call it Playing with Dynamite. Or A Woman Wronged.


Have I got the movie for you.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:44 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a friend of mine once remarked: Lifetime is a network named for the two things its viewers waste.

However, the IMDB summary of Deadly Spa has convinced me that he's totally wrong.
posted by Mayor West at 11:50 AM on January 16, 2015


I think part of the charm of Lifetime movies is the wild variation between schlocky can't stop watching melodramas and genuinely good, wouldn't see this elsewhere women-focused movies. I get a certain thrill when I try watching one of them: will this be one of the sort of awful yet entertaining ones, or will I get a pleasant surprise?

The last really good one I watched was Return to Zero, which was a fairly wrenching portrayal of how a couple handles a miscarriage. Minnie Driver was great in it, and there were just so many details that rang true.
posted by yasaman at 11:51 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


A good friend of mine recently moved away but is back in the area for work, and we're going to sleep over at her mom's house and drink and watch Whitney tomorrow night.

I may have to try to get my hands on Deadly Spa for a double feature. Which reminds me I need to go make us an appointment at a less deadly spa to get our feet done.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:14 PM on January 16, 2015


Not a Lifetime movie, but I was extremely sick and feverish on my 21st birthday and wound up drifting in and out of sleep while watching The Nature of the Beast. Eric Roberts and Lance Henriksen! And Brion James! It's like a perfect storm of "that guy" actors. For a long time I thought I had dreamed it up.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:28 PM on January 16, 2015


Unless he's pictured hanging Christmas lights. Then he's the one!

Lifetime Christmas movies are ammmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaazing. Like, I need more letters of the alphabet to express how amazing they are. THEY ARE AMAZING.

The best one is the one where this little kid's dad dies and his mom is going to remarry this terrible banker dude who does terrible things like buy her a nice necklace for Christmas and take her out to dinner, so the little kid and the dad's ghost who is a really good piano player start conspiring to get the mom to ditch the banker and marry the little kid's hockey coach, who is played by Dr. Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1. Plus it's Christmas. IT'S AMAZING.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:27 PM on January 16, 2015


Also the best thing about Lifetime movies is that they take place in Canmerica, an idyllic USA that looks suspiciously like the suburbs of Vancouver, where everyone has a Canadian accent.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:30 PM on January 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Interesting that the Lifetime Films have apparently gotten better. I haven't had cable for quite a while now and I recently became aware that Lifetime is (or was recently) home to a show about Jennifer Love Hewitt wearing revealing outfits and giving happy endings.

I just assumed the network had gone off the shlock deep end.
posted by brundlefly at 4:25 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best one is the one where this little kid's dad dies and his mom is going to remarry this terrible banker dude who does terrible things like buy her a nice necklace for Christmas and take her out to dinner

I just watched that one this year! I could've sworn that hockey coach/counselor? was also the guy that played the homeless-helping guy in one of the "woman has an accident that causes her to dream about a new life" movies, but it turns out they're two different people that looked basically exactly the same.
posted by Jpfed at 7:48 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh man, Whitney is apparently a bit disappointing.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:11 PM on January 16, 2015


Oh my GAWD, you cannot talk about JL Hewitt and her prostitution movie (she works at Kind Touch "Health" Spa, you guys) without linking to the Fug Girls' hilarious review. Also you should probably just read everything else in the 'Fug the Fromage' category because man alive, the Fug Girls love them a Lifetime/MoTW movie and even better they are hilarrrrrious when they deconstruct it.

It's worth noting that the Fug Girls not only linked this article in their Friday link roundup, they also linked the article about Settlers and a Linda Holmes article. Honestly if you love MetaFilter and you have a certain bent of personality, you will also love the Fug Girls' Friday link roundup. It's like MetaFilter with more links to rumors of Hiddlestonian sex scenes and crown jewel stories.
posted by librarylis at 8:40 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Close, but no cigar, Halloween Jack. I don't want a tortured psychic teenager. I want a woman with a grudge, access to explosives, a list of targets, and a steely determined glint in her eye.

And in the end, I want her to get away and Never Get Caught and live a happy life with a hot husband and adorable kids and puppies and lots of money.
posted by emjaybee at 1:44 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


My mom calls these movies "woman in distress" movies.

I actually Netflix'd the Grumpy Cat movie (not a "woman in distress" Lifetime movie in the traditional sense, but Grumpy is a ladycat) and found it really enjoyable. It was snarky, self-aware, and cute. 10/10 would watch again.
posted by Fuego at 3:08 PM on January 17, 2015


Memories of Murder (the "first Lifetime movie") is also the title of a quite decent South Korean film by Snowpiercer director Joon-Ho Bong. Thematically, it fits -- it's about that country's first serial murder case^ (which remains unsolved).
posted by dhartung at 3:56 PM on January 17, 2015


are there lifetime, or lifetime-esque movies on amazon prime that anyone would suggest?
posted by nadawi at 4:35 PM on January 17, 2015


My wife gets Christmas-themed Lifetime movies on DVD every year, so my recommendations will skew in that direction. For fairly light entertainment, I would suggest Recipe For A Perfect Christmas with the criminally overlooked Bobby Cannavale. Probably my favorite is Home By Christmas with Linda Hamilton, but be warned, it really puts her through the wringer.
posted by Jpfed at 6:07 PM on January 17, 2015


Oh my GAWD, you cannot talk about JL Hewitt and her prostitution movie (she works at Kind Touch "Health" Spa, you guys) without linking to the Fug Girls' hilarious review.

That's hilarious. Also, I find it sort of amusing that the TV show based on that movie has JLH playing a different woman who ends up giving hand jobs at a massage parlor.
posted by brundlefly at 6:42 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


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