Whatever happened to that basic cable equivalent of Old Faithful known as the Lifetime Original Movie? Once upon a time, the network was a reliable source for campy, crazy and compulsive watchable television movies with melodramatic titles like My Baby is Missing, Mom at Sixteen and While the Children Sleep. Boasting C-list stars, shamelessly manipulative storytelling and subject matter that ranged from murder and sex to kidnapping and body issues (and sometimes all of the above), these telefilms provided countless hours of entertainment to housewives (and househusbands), bored college students and snarky entertainment journalists looking for something to make fun of...while secretly enjoying.
I'm clearly not alone. It seems that moneyed asshole-centric programming has reached new heights, as one can see by not only the overarching success of the aforementioned shows but the slew of new ones filling up the fall calendar and beyond. There is, of course, the much anticipated return of 90210, some scripted series called Privileged, that reality Devil Wears Prada knock-off Stylista, and the requisite parade of E! specials that will doubtless document the excesses of the young, rich and annoying in that special way that only E! does.
Though Marc Cherry's Devious Maids may be a bit of an on-the-nose tribute to his wildly successful Desperate Housewives both in title and structure, the new Lifetime series' pilot was far better than most of the latter-day Housewives episodes. Maids is funny, dark and stars four Latina women -- if the rest of the series follow the pilot's lead (and after watching episode two, "Setting the Table," I'm optimistic it will), Lifetime will have something worth watching other than Dance Moms and How I Met Your Mother reruns.
Lifetime is really into the whole life-imitating-art thing -- if their movies count as art now.
Given that it cast Lindsay Lohan of all people as Elizabeth Taylor, there was no way in hell that the Lifetime-produced biopic Liz & Dick -- which chronicled La Liz's turbulent romance with Richard Burton (played by Grant Bowler) -- was going to be any good. Still, even we were impressed by how terrible the finished product turned out to be -- a telefilm lacking the subtlety, grace and nuance of your average Ed Wood production... or even your typical Lifetime movie-of-the-week. (Let's just say that we expect more from the network that gave us My Stepson, My Lover among other classics.) Here are the ten most ridiculous things about this utterly ridiculous waste of two hours:
An SNL cast member is getting their own show and it's probably not who you'd expect.
Anyone fancy a spot of tea?
Oh great, another relationship with a very limited expiration date.
Please, not another Bunheads.
What's the best way to save money on TV merchandising? Have fans design it.
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