Primer: How to navigate the weepy world of Lifetime movies

Primer is The A.V. Club‘s ongoing series of beginner’s guides to pop culture’s most notable subjects: filmmakers, music styles, literary genres, and whatever else interests us—and hopefully you. This installment: Lifetime movies.

If Lifetime movies came in Odorama—not Smell-O-Vision, Odorama—the scratch-and-sniff cards would have to include a few different scents. First and foremost, the salty smell of tears, shed over an unworthy man or ungrateful daughter. Then there’s gasoline, for torching said unworthy man’s car, and a whiff of the pot smoke inhaled by the ungrateful daughter. Add the metallic tang of blood (like most B-movies, Lifetime movies are fixated on murder), the powder used to change the diapers of some poor woman’s precious baby just before it gets stolen, and the artificial stink of a Christmas-tree air freshener, and you’ve got yourself a Lifetime movie.

The “Lifetime movie …

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