Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lifetime Original...Disappointment

My dad has a weird taste in movies. Between all the action films and sci-fi classics, I will catch him watching something unexpected, usually starring Reese Witherspoon. He claims that, "There was nothing else on!" But for the number of times I have caught him watching Bring It On, I find that excuse highly suspect.

I suppose I get my taste in movies from him, though. I love Indiana Jones and the Terminator series as much as I adore Love Actually and Sleepless in Seattle. I guess you could say our tastes are eclectic.

This weekend, we watched Lifetime.

Now, I will openly admit my love for Lifetime Original Movies. They are so awesomely bad that they become even more awesome with every trial scene and and ripped-from-the-headlines trope. Visitors in the Night, starring D.J. Tanner, is a rare treat, but the Texas Cheerleader Scandal remains one of my all-time favorites.

Saturday night, however, we were treated to Lying to be Perfect, starring the detective from Without a Trace, that other guy from Without a Trace and various Law and Order alumni. The premise is this: Three ladies in fat suits are unhappy because they are fat. One of these ladies creates an alter ego to write an advice column, and this beautiful, British version becomes a worldwide phenomenon. Then fat lady meets Daniel Meade, thinks he is a nerdy computer guy, and falls in love, all the time whining about how she is a fat, fat fatty who doesn't deserve love. Stuff happens, and fat ladies get a makeover montage, and the now-thin heroine looks like her British fantasy columnist but, woe! she thinks she is going to be arrested for using a pseudonym, a widely accepted practice in journalism. But this is Lifetime, and in the end our feisty heroine ends up with the guy, a book and a second musical montage.

It's supposed to be a Cinderella story. It was awful.

I have to give my dad credit for sitting through it with me. Once the opening credits started, we couldn't turn it off. Lifetime Originals can be like that. But, oh, god, this movie took every fairy tale trope, every makeover cliche and every insecurity from high school and pounded them into our skulls.

At least a dozen times, either my dad or I turned to each other and called exactly what would happen next. Exactly what would happen next. If anything, we bonded over this Splenda-infused piece of dairy-free television dessert.

I am disappointed in Lifetime. Sure, the station has never been the epitome of feminism--or well-crafted story telling--but this movie was possibly the worst thing I have sat through in my life, and I saw Biodome.

The thing is, this movie could have been so much better. The takeaway was supposed to be that you have to be your own fairy godmother and inspire change in your life, blah blah blah, but did that mean every single one of these women could not be happy until they were thin and wearing expensive, designer dresses? The biggest problem I saw was that they all insisted on wearing clothing a size too small! Only an hour before, Queen Latifah wore fantastic clothes and looked gorgeous in Beauty Shop, despite (or because of!) being a heavier woman--why couldn't any of these women embody her instead of moaning about their lack of self control while eating another donut. Of course, the prominence of fat-shaming on television is an entirely different post.

At the very least, my dad and I had fun competing on when Detective Spade would discover Chip was really Daniel Meade or when we'd see the next montage. I guess, even when Lifetime creates something as god-awful as Lying to be Perfect, it still succeeds in bring people together. Or something.

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