Lifetime movies are kind of like daydreams.
Husband cheating? Bludgeon him with a black lacquer vase. Feeling fat? Display copious cleavage during a courtroom custody battle. Dating troubles? Close your eyes and ask, Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?
The channel has churned out delicious imitation crab since 1984, and who can resist?
Lip gloss stays perfect, even when the ex-lover has schizophrenia. Loveless marriages end cleanly in stabbing. The world rotates on shame spirals, pill bottles, rolling luggage and tragic stumbles down winding staircases.
Lifetime's latest epic masterpiece, The Client List, stars Jennifer Love Hewitt as Samantha Horton, a struggling ex-beauty queen mom who — oops! — falls into prostitution (there are no other jobs, y'all) and cocaine (a girl's gotta stay awake to make the bake sale deadline). The movie airs Monday, but we watched it early to see if it rises to the time-tested Lifetime Standards of Excellence:
Inappropriate glances from father figures: In The Client List, Samantha Horton's father/stepfather/sketchy uncle isn't around. HOWEVER. When she takes a job as a "massage therapist" at a "health spa," she "services" many gentleman in the 40-60 age range. Ding ding ding! It doesn't compete with Lifetime's classic My Stepson, My Lover. But then, what can?
Underage tomfoolery: This is no Fifteen and Pregnant with Kirsten Dunst, or She's Too Young, in which syphilis plagues a school of teens. But inappropriate hope is restored when we meet a doe-eyed youngster with pigtails at the massage parlor who looks to Samantha for motherly guidance. Will she find it before slumming her life away?
Dramatic monologues: Confessions of a Go-Go Girl graced us with glorious lines like this: "I feel powerful. I can get people to do what I want them to do. But I go too far, I get lost and I don't recognize myself." In The Client List, Samantha's embattled husband goes toe to toe for the sappy gold. Get ready to hear about how brave Samantha was at the veterinarian's office!
Religious iconography: Samantha talks incessantly to an angel statue glued to the dashboard of her pickup truck. And the sexy massage parlor is located conveniently across from a Christian fellowship lodge. The movie doesn't take the bold approach of In God's Country or Amish Grace. But it's subtle. You know, like a white zinfandel.
Rampant abuse of cosmetics: Good golly, yes. Don't you sleep in a full set of false eyelashes?
Tori Spelling and/or Amish people: Sorely lacking.
Total female victory! If you've seen previews for The Client List, you know our heroine's illegal pursuits land her in an orange jumpsuit. But if we've learned anything from Lifetime, it's that no woman ever really loses. That is, unless a jealous stepsister is standing in the shadows with a vase.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8857.