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Unless you’re one of our (poor, unfortunate) Twitter followers, you probably missed our epic live-tweeting of the Lifetime 2-night premiere of Bonnie & Clyde. (Translation: Lena came to my house with adult beverages and we ordered “party” pizza. Then we sat on my couch with phones/laptops and retweeted each other all night).

This is not a stock photo.

Aside from a few flashes of bizarrely graphic violence, Bonnie & Clyde was pretty forgettable. (It was actually forgettable even while we were watching it. Every few minutes someone would say, “Wait, what did I miss? Whose funeral is this? How did they get out of jail?” and then we’d poll the room and realize no one could remember what the hell was happening. It’s like they filmed it in amnesia-vision.)

We made up for an unmemorable movie with some memorable tweets. A few highlights:

Messing with the official Lifetime Twitter account:

Analyzing the plot:

Retweeting the like-minded:

Key observations:

Summarizing the plot (and bringing back “peen”):

Bringing others up to speed:

Expressing concerns:

Closing reflections:

 

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I was inspired to review The Nightmare Nanny in honor of my favorite new blog, Musings on Half-Watched Lifetime Movies. MoHWLM recaps/reviews hilariously awful Lifetime movies until they become too boring to finish. Brilliant, right?

I half-watched The Nightmare Nanny a few weeks ago. It’s a standard evil babysitter movie so naturally it opens with a flashback: A young expectant couple is driving along a deserted highway in the middle of the night. They’re all aglow until – BAM – a gruesome car accident puts an end to their nuclear family dreams.

Flash forward to a few years later and we’re meeting another family — a pair of hyper-yuppies with a precocious little girl.

Things aren’t going so well at the office for dad, so stay-at-home Yuppie Mom is contemplating a return to work.

Yuppie Mom is our protagonist. We, the viewers, are expected to relate to a 100-pound woman who:

  • lives in a house that looks like this:

  • is grappling with whether or not to return to work at a high-profile, high-salaried job where she is appreciated and valued
  • complains about having to spend a day interviewing private nannies, then makes a frustrated bitchface the entire time

Enter the eponymous Nightmare Nanny. NN is (natch) the girl from the flashback and (guess what??) she’s a psychopath!

In summary, Yuppie Mom = protagonist, Nightmare Nanny = villain.

This would all make sense except for the fact that Nightmare Nanny is kind of totally awesome. She’s patient, warm, and makes delicious home-cooked meals. Unlike Yuppie Mom, she smiles a lot and actually seems to enjoy playing games and doing kid stuff. Even Yuppie Dad thinks she’s great.

Sure, she has a tendency to freak out a little (cue creepy string part)...

But she has lasagna on the table when you get home. How bad can she be?

I fell asleep somewhere around the part where NN kidnaps the precocious little girl. An online recap confirmed that the ending follows the standard evil babysitter plotline: Yuppie Mom figures the whole thing out after meeting with some useless cops. Then NN goes on the lam with the daughter in tow, a chase ensures, there’s a tearful confrontation, and yadda yadda yadda… NN commits suicide and the yuppie family reunites.

I’m liking this half-watching thing. It’s like taking just one bite out of a stack of pancakes. Do you really need any more than that?

Other Notes: I absolutely could not believe that this was a new Lifetime movie. I STILL can’t believe it. Everything (well, except the cell phones and stuff) is 80-90s Lifetime, right down to the lead’s horrible pixie cut and power corporate job. I know I always say LMs look out-of-date because they’re produced in Canada (the wayback machine for clothing and hair trends), but this one left me speechless. A pixie cut! Dear god.

I had big plans for the holidays this year: celebrations in multiple cities, hot beverages of all kinds, a hike in the snow…

But no. Instead I woke up on Christmas Eve with more than the usual amount of malaise and a cough that tasted like a coral reef. I was still convinced I could get over it, so we went forward with our cross-state travel (well, Mr. Max did. I mostly slept in the car with a blanket over my face).

We were supposed to visit with metropolitan-based family on Christmas morning, but by then even I (a person who “ doesn’t get sick”) had to admit that I was really, really, really, sick. Like, too sick open presents. Or move. Or drink.

Instead I slept all day, drifting in and out of fever spells. When I woke up, the TV revealed the silver lining of my unfortunate flu:

The perfect excuse to finally see the Meredith Baxter TV movie that practically defines Television For Women.


A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story is the true-life (according to the title cards) tale of Betty Broderick, the wife of high-powered San Diego attorney Dan Broderick. As a wealthy power couple, the Brodericks are all about swanky balls and country club memberships, and less about, you know, sanity.

Within the first half an hour, Betty ruins Christmas because she got a bad present (a giant diamond ring that’s the WRONG KIND apparently).

Dan responds,  “It’s Christmas. If your Mom wants to behave like a spoiled brat, let’s let her.” Because that’s what you do in front of your children.

It isn’t long before Dan starts palling around with his young new secretary in a convertible.

Dan threatens to leave, and in response Betty burns his clothing in a pile in the front yard. Sensing that this will not end well, Dan moves out, and Betty goes off the deep end in a way that is only plausible in a Lifetime movie.

(I couldn’t get a screenshot of this so I’ll just tell you: she smears a frosted cake on his wardrobe and bed. Points for creativity, right?)

Dan gets a restraining order, but it doesn’t stop Betty’s reign of terror. She starts leaving obscene messages on Dan’s answering machine, drops their kids off in the middle of the night to “live with him,” breaks into the house and spray paints the walls…

…drives a truck into the side of the house, and generally continues to aggressively harass Dan for “ruining her life.” Eventually, she gets a gun and you probably know the rest.


In case you don’t, she totally blows away Dan and his new wife.

And that’s basically the movie, plus the framing device of a still-crazy Betty talking to the camera from jail.

You might be wondering: who exactly is the protagonist? I know the question crossed my mind a few times.

It’s not Dan (because he’s a sleazy lawyer dude who’s sleeping with his secretary). And Betty’s like, a crazy murderer, so it really shouldn’t be her. But since she’s always on-screen, ranting and monologuing, you almost begin to root for her. Even though she’s crazy and actually phenomenally unlikable.

And that is the magic of Lifetime.


Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter

You might think that a TV movie that begins with a couple arguing and ends with murder and handcuffs completes a natural story arc. But that doesn’t stop Lifetime! There’s actually a sequel — descriptively titled Her Final Fury — and it’s (almost) as good as the original.

Unlike most movie sequels, Her Final Fury actually includes the last ten minutes or so of the regular movie. Why? No idea, but Mr. Max says this detail is his favorite part of either (or both?) movie(s).

Shortly after the murder happens (um, again), we see an unnamed suburban couple gossiping about the case in their front yard. “Did you hear who killed her husband?” whisper-shouts the wife with way too much excitement. I love the randomness of this scene. I guess it’s supposed to show us that the murder is big news in town? At least among this particular couple?


The rest of the movie takes place, more or less, in boring courtroom drama land. Betty doesn’t have a lot to do except hang out in jail so the lady prosecutor becomes the de facto protagonist. The first trial ends in a hung jury, but the dedicated prosecutor is undeterred and immediately signs on for trial #2.

Even behind bars, Betty’s up to her usual antics — threatening her older daughter for testifying against her, ranting to the press, and hiring a PR firm to craft her “image.” Eventually, there’s a showdown on the stand between lady prosecutor and crazy Betty. Betty’s no match for the sharp (and powersuited) lady prosecutor, and she’s finally convicted and sent to jail for a long, long time.


Come on Lifetime, it’s been 20 years. Aren’t we ready for Her Final FINAL Fury: The Parole Hearings?

So, it’s halftime for Liz & Dick. What have we learned so far?

1) A turban is the most versatile fashion accessory OF ALL TIME.

2) The best way to charm a woman is to berate her publicly in a restaurant and/or ruin a dinner party. You’ll steal her heart forever!

3) A romance is most effectively summarized using a 30-second montage where the couple enters trailers on a movie set in order to do the nasty.

4) Every scene must include a nightgown and a liquor bottle,

What are you planning on doing tonight? Catching up on laundry? Watching The Walking Dead (even though the mayor character is getting really, really annoying)? Browsing Etsy for a million hours?

I’ve got a way better idea: join me in live-tweeting/blogging the premier (can you call it that if it’s on TV?) of Liz & Dick! I’ll be bringing the sarcasm via Twitter at @attemptedblog and right here at The Lower Crust. Also — be sure to follow my pal Jen Boudinot (@LMNReviews), the queen of all Lifetime Movie reviewers. It’s gonna be GREAT.

Oh. Oh my.

We got sucked into this movie on a Sunday afternoon, the traditional time for doing laundry and watching 5-hour Lifetime Movies. But! It’s not technically a Lifetime Movie. At least, not originally.

Chloe has real stars in it and appeared in actual movie theaters. It’s got arty camerawork and tense dialogue, but instead of retiring to IFC it ended up on Lifetime. This happened because 1) it is terrible and also 2) it was filmed in Canada.

It stars Julianne Moore…

?????

I know. Everyone has at least one person (real or famous) who makes them feel inadequate and dumpy and Julianne Moore is definitely on my list. The woman has cheekbones that just WON’T QUIT.

They make my face look like a cheese danish.

It’s more than just her looks, though. Julianne Moore is a really good actress who’s made a career of playing intelligent and complicated characters. She’s classy and smart so WTH is she doing in this trashy “erotic” thriller? It’s like if Meryl Streep was suddenly in some stupid, lame, dorky…

….oh.

Ahem, back to Chloe. The main plot follows Julianne Moore, a bored housewife living with her husband and teenage son in a big, sparsely decorated house straight out of Unhappy Hipsters.

The interior designer’s monochromatic color scheme had relegated the children’s toys to the exterior. The architect would not be pleased.

Julianne’s got a pretty sweet life, at least in terms of hegemonic middle class values: she’s a doctor, she’s married to a professor, their kid is a talented, they’re pretty wealthy, the house has a lot of windows, she’s got great cheekbones…

But there’s trouble in paradise. Julianne finds a cell phone picture of the husband hugging a college student and becomes convinced that he’s having an affair. She has a great idea: hire a random call girl to flirt with him and report back to her. This scheme reminds me of those rom-coms where a girl vows to find her platonic male friend (who she’s secretly in love with) a date. WHY, WHAT A PERFECT PLAN THAT CAN IN NO WAY BACKFIRE HORRIBLY.

The call girl is the eponymous Chloe (played by Amanda Seyfried). Kudos to the casting agent for picking an actress that, appearance-wise, seems like she could actually be a young prostitute.


I think it’s the dead eyes.

Chloe starts flirting with the husband and eventually they kiss. She reports this back to Julianne Moore, who gets pissed off because Chloe was just supposed to see if he was interested — not actually do anything.

Too late.

Eventually Julianne gets over it and asks Chloe to continue her fake relationship with the husband. (Which is always shown in flashbacks told from Chloe’s point of view — hint, hint.) At this point the movie veers into bad fake French film territory as Julianne gets all hot and bothered about Chloe seducing the husband.

Julianne! What are you doing? You’re a serious actress! Your cheekbones are better than this!

(At this point, Mr. Max reminded me that Julianne Moore was also in that silly it-was-aliens movie, The Forgotten. But this is a whole ‘nother level.)

So, because this is one of those “arty” movies where characters start randomly having sex with each other, Julianne and Chloe begin an affair of their own.

The age difference is a little distracting, I think.

It’s all very moody and dark. Eventually, in a dramatic plot twist that anyone with half a brain saw coming a mile away, Julianne realizes that the husband has never met Chloe — she was lying about everything. She breaks all ties with Chloe and confesses the affair to the husband and who’s all like whatever, sounds pretty hot. All is well until…

Chloe, bent on revenge, shows up at the house to seduce the teenage son. Julianne gets back just in time to CB, but not before Chloe grabs a hairpin and starts threatening her. (Um, a hairpin? Those are dangerous?)

The thing looks pretty blunt to me.

Chloe demands one last kiss, and Julianne complies, thus scarring her teenage son (who’s still hiding out of sight) for life. Teenage son reveals his presence, startling them both, and causes Chloe to accidentally fall through the big glass window to her death.

Seriously, how is this not a Lifetime Movie?

The movie ends with Julianne embracing the husband at their son’s graduation party. She smiles and turns to her guests and the camera zooms in on Chloe’s hairpin in her hair. (GET IT?! IT MEANS SOMETHING. WE’RE NOT SURE WHAT, BUT DEFINITELY SOMETHING. SOMETHING SMART. BECAUSE THIS IS AN ART FILM. WE THINK.)

Boringness Rating: 0 Hotels. Get out the popcorn because this is the best: an awesome trashy Lifetime Movie + pretty actors + self-importance + a huge budget. You might even consider renting it for the non-cable experience (i.e., sex scenes). Also, be on the lookout for Degrassi alum Nina Dobrev. Go Canada!

According to the wordpress stats panel, a whole bunch of people come to The Lower Crust by searching for “The Client List.” I posted a review of the movie way back in 2011, and (much to my amazement/glee) Lifetime has turned it into a regular series. Believe it or not, Jennifer Love Hewitt is even back as the lead — a sassy, single prostitute (SSP) doing it for her family.

The fancy video trailer. Favorite line: “90% of what we do here is legit.”

The Client List is on at the same time as Mad Men — a date I just can’t break — but thanks to OnDemand, I’ve been able to keep up with new episodes.

Oh, right. Mad Men. Now that we’re on the subject, I have to say it. I’ve really been enjoying season 5 (yes, even Megan), but this?

Is the low point of the series.

While it’s possible to enjoy both Lifetime Movies and Mad Men, mixing them is like chasing dinner at a five-star restaurant with county fair fried dough. And bringing Betty back as a binge-eating housewife is like, pretty Lifetime-y.

I find it especially surprising that a show that’s normally very critical of the establishment would parrot such a hegemonic, unexamined idea. A housewife stuffing her face because she has no self-control is something my racist old uncle would come up with after seeing a fat lady in the supermarket. I expect better. Rant over. Ahem. Back to reviewing an actual Lifetime show.

The Client List (the series) isn’t a continuation of the movie, which ended with JLH reuniting with her husband at a Chuck E. Cheese. Instead, the story starts at the beginning with a concept reboot: In the first few scenes, JLH’s husband suddenly abandons her and the kids.

Leading her here.

In the movie the husband was unemployed, and the resultant financial struggle led to JLH’s new “career.” They must have decided that a wife/mother brothel-ing out behind her husband’s back was too gross of an exposition for a regular series. Cybill Shepherd, fairly fresh from her campy turn as Martha Stewart, is also back as JLH’s nosy mother. She’s basically Lifetime’s answer to the Dowager Countess.

Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Southern Accent: A Brief Aside

One of the trashiest/most delicious aspects of the show is Jennifer Love Hewitt’s weird folksy dialogue and entertainingly bad southern accent. Take, for example, this exchange from a recent episode:

JLH’s friend: I can keep a secret.

JLH: Uh, in circulation! (half speed, pronounced as “serrcyoohLEYYYshuhn”)

While definitely amusing, I maintain that Hewitt’s droopy drawl is actually a mid-level bad accent. While it’s definitely worse than, say, Cate Blanchett in Benjamin Button….

which is, okay, pretty bad…

It doesn’t even come close to my personal favorite bad southern accent:

Miranda Otto in The Way We Live Now. This is a great miniseries but two words describe what this poor girl is doing: Foghorn Leghorn.

So JLH is in good company. But there’s more to the series than just the draw of the drawl — the whole double-life thing provides plenty of juicy plot. One minute JLH is at a parent-teacher conference, and the next she’s rubbing down some random dude at the “spa.” No one, of course, knows the truth — not even her husband’s brother… …who is clearly the love interest, based on looking like John Stamos. Lifetime ladies love their John Stamos.

It’s weird — for a series about a house of prostitution, it’s oddly chaste. There’s a lot of massaging and talking and wearing of outfits. And there’s definitely a lot of shirtless male model type dudes. This is a realistic depiction of brothel clientele. Yup. (Also, this guy is totally Joan’s lame husband from Mad Men.)

But they somehow manage to keep the whole thing feeling kind of PG. Even though it’s clear that JLH is offering “special services” that merit the giant wads of cash she uses to pay her mortgage, the plots don’t linger on anything gross or creepy for very long.

In a recent episode, a seemingly normal client (a power business dude) freaks out because JLH forgets an appointment. Power business dude starts yelling at JLH and for a moment, it gets kind of scary. Is it about to get  “real”? Oh, nope. A quick gee-shucks-turn-that-frown-upside-down from JLH and he turns back into a needy, nonthreatening milquetoast. All he really wants is to cuddle, right?

Still, it’s a pretty decent good-bad show. You heard me Mad Men — there’s something else I can watch at 10PM on Sundays. So maybe lay off the Betty storylines, eh?