Michael Gross can’t be trusted. Beneath the genial, aging-hippie demeanor of “Family Ties” lies a heart of darkness.  A blackened and shriveled soul.  A stalker, a rapist and, twice, a murderer.

The other day, I saw his name in the opening credits of an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”  My father was sleeping next to me, drooling.

“He did it,” I informed my father.  “Oh he definitely did it.”

Never mind that “it” hadn’t happened yet.  “It” was going down and Michael Gross was responsible.

Which is to say that I’ve watched enough Lifetime movies to know this one thing: Michael Gross is always to blame.

***

Saturday mornings when I was small, my sister and I would tune in to Lifetime to watch “Designing Women” reruns.  We’d sit in front of the TV in our flannel nightgowns and footy pajamas and giggle at the exploits of those indomitable Sugarbaker sisters and their coterie of steel magnolia interior decorator co-workers.  From the first strains of “Georgia on My Mind,” we were spellbound.

It was, in fact, an educational experience.  I credit Dixie Carter’s stirring rhetoric with my feminist awakening.  And kudos to Annie Potts for illuminating the finer points of the Clarence Thomas scandal.

Even in those days, it was clear that I was the Mary Jo to Hannah’s Julia.  Mousier.  Less strident.

Needless to say, Hannah controlled the remote.

Later we’d catch a few minutes of “Golden Girls” or “Murphy Brown.”

We liked “Sisters.”  Sela Ward in her tough-girl leather jacket and a sexy, mullet-clad George Clooney.

And then there were those short-lived sitcoms time forgot.  “Hope & Gloria” and “Almost Perfect,” and “Ned and Stacey.”  Shows that only lasted one or two seasons.  Shows that left their stars unknown and out-of-work.

We liked those, too.

Mostly though, we liked the movies.  “Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.”  The epic Valerie Bertinelli miniseries “I’ll Take Manhattan.”  All films involving Tori Spelling.

We weren’t the target demographic.  Not by a long shot.  But the geniuses at Lifetime had caught us in their crosshairs all the same.

***

The other night I caught a 2:00 am screening of the Shannen Doherty flick, “Sleeping with the Devil.”  In it, Shannen plays a woman who gets involved with a manipulative Texas businessman played by Tim Mattheson.  Deep into the third act, I actually caught myself rubbing my hands with vindictive pleasure.  “Boy,” I told myself, “he messed with the wrong girl!”

***

Some time in the mid ’90s, MTV stopped playing music videos, replacing them with what producers euphemistically referred to as “original programming.”  At first it was good.  “The Real World” and “Daria.”   Then later, “Undressed” and “Singled Out.”  Slowly but slowly, the music disappeared.

Over on Lifetime, an analogous situation arose.  The movies became few and far between.  Someone made the questionable decision to acquire “Reba” episodes.  Someone green-lit “Army Wives.”  And before we knew what had hit us, Tori Spelling was doing reality shows to make cash and Jaclyn Smith was hosting “Shear Genius” on Bravo.

But, phoenix-like, from the ashes emerged something new.  All hail Lifetime Movie Network: all movies all the time.

***

I’m partial to movies involving murder, stalking, infidelity, amnesia.  To Erika Eleniak’s more-is-more approach to acting.  To films with colons in their titles.

I like the names.  “A Woman Scorned: the Betty Broderick Story.”  “Awake to Danger.”

Also, I like Markie Post and Gerald MacRaney.  And Meredith Baxter.  With or without the “Birney.”

***

This is Liftetime’s description of the 2007 thriller “Enemy Within”:

“Amy Tolliver is a blind 19-year-old dating her high school sweetheart David Harris.  But when a bus carrying local convicts crashes near her secluded mountain home and lead con Roy Evans hides in her cabin unbeknownst to her, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues.  Ultimately, Roy will dispatch Amy’s grandmother and a visiting policeman- until in a nailbiting climax, Amy, despite being sightless, is able to turn the tables on him.”

Does that sound fucking amazing or what?

“Blind 19-year-old”?  Absolutely.  Bus crash involving “local convicts”?  Yes.  Oh yes.  “Nailbiting climax”?  You bet your ass.

***

Once, I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning watching an LMN double feature. I’d planned on going to bed after the first movie, but directly after, there was this other one I just had to see.   “Yesterday’s Children.”

Jane Seymour played dual roles.  A Depression-era Irishwoman and a modern-day Arizonan.  It was, I thought, a bravura performance.

According to the Lifetime website, “it’s a wild, true story.”

***

Part of the fun of Lifetime is in seeing how celebrities paid the bills before they hit the big time.  (And sometimes afterwards, too.)

Emily Blunt, for instance, playing the psychotic daughter Susan Sarandon gave up for adoption.  Or Kirsten Dunst as the titular character in “Fifteen and Pregnant.”  Paul Dano as a teen father in “Too Young to Be a Dad.”  Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt did made-for-tv, playing the youngest child in a dysfunctional blended family in “Danielle Steel’s Changes.”  And, having fallen on hard times, Thora Birch is set to appear in “The Pregnancy Pact” at the end of this month.

The ’90s were a particularly rich time for made-for-tv movies.  Back in 1998, for instance, Rose McGowan cut her teeth as a troubled young orphan who beats her grandmother to death with her own cane.  In 1996, Keri Russell fell prey to a not-so-wholesome Stephen “Reverend Camden” Collins in “The Babysitter’s Seduction.”  And in ’97, James Marsden showed his acting chops, taking on the role of a mental patient on the lam with his bipolar girlfriend.

That same year, future Oscar-winner Hilary Swank played a sorority pledge whose best friend dies in a freak hazing accident in “Dying to Belong.”

And who had the gravitas to play Hilary’s self-righteous reporter boyfriend?  Mr. Zack Morris himself: Mark-Paul Goselaar.

***

Flipping through the channels, I caught this snippet of dialogue:

“And that afternoon, there was an avalanche.  He was buried alive.”

***

“Lifetime,” a male friend once told me, “is for women who like watching other women get beaten.”

This is not strictly speaking true.

Not all women in Lifetime movies are beaten.  Some of them do the beating.  And some are adulterers.  Philanderers.  Serial killers.

Admittedly, the subjects of these movies often have some seriously bad luck.  They’re murdered, for example.  Or they’re friends or relatives of a murder victim.  They’re raped and stalked and they turn tricks for money and engage in vicious custody battles.  Sometimes they’re bulimic.

The movies about eating disorders are like how-to guides.  We studied them like textbooks.  “Perfect Body” with Amy Jo Johnson.  “A Secret Between Friends.”  I got all my best diet tips from Tracey Gold in “For the Love of Nancy.”

Not exactly the stuff of feminist dreams, this.

One might venture to say that Lifetime is, in fact, profoundly sexist.

I’ll buy that.

The women of Lifetime Movie Network are, more often than not, victims.  The men are frequently violent bastards.  They’re not flesh-and-blood characters; they’re cardboard cutouts.  Stereotypes.  Rinse, lather, repeat.

Lifetime is pink.  The type of girl that dots her ‘i’s with hearts.  Lifetime is white and middle class and gets supremely excited about Oprah’s “favorite things” episodes.  Lifetime is one of those Jamie Lee Curtis Activia commercials.  It’s cliche.  It’s a cultural joke and a national embarrassment.  It’s Jacyln Smith: ’70s icon who now shills low-quality sheets for KMart.

I know this.  And yet.

***

I was going to try and justify this obsession with a little Susan Sontag.  I was going to quote from “Notes on Camp.”  I was considering footnotes.

But I’m not sure that argument can be made.  At least not by me, anyway.

Let’s try another one, shall we?  A somewhat less erudite one to be sure, but a more convincing one, too.

Lifetime bills itself as “television for women.”  Not “television for women who belong to NOW.”  Not even “television for women who buy Proactiv.”  Television for women.  And women?  We’re not just one thing.  Just as men aren’t all- G-d help us- Tucker Max clones, women do not fall into easy “Sex and the City” archetypes.

“Woman” is, on some level, meaningless.  “Female” is even more so.  “All gendering,” Judith Butler says, “is a kind of impersonation and approximation…a kind of imitation for which there is no original.”

Butler, in other words, suggests that there is no ‘proper’ way of doing gender.  And, on some level, Lifetime does too.

Sometimes a Lifetime movie is like your Phyllis Schafly-quoting mother-in-law: she tells you to get back in the kitchen.  Sometimes she’s like Caitlin Flanagan, urging you to just lie there if it’ll keep your husband happy.  Sometimes a Lifetime movie will tell you that you’re incomplete without a man.  That you’re bereft without a baby.  Sometimes she’ll tell you to look over your shoulder sweetie because behind you is a man out to drug you. Or a man determined to rape you.  Sometimes she’ll warn you that your boyfriend’s out to steal your inheritance via an elaborate scheme in which he’ll have you declared insane.  ‘Cause she’s just looking out for you.

But sometimes?  Sometimes a Lifetime movie is like Ms. magazine, complete with hotline numbers and websites to check out for more information.  Sometimes- admittedly not often- a Lifetime movie is Gloria Steinem.  Sometimes she’s even Gloria Anzaldua.

Mostly though?  Mostly she’s Danielle Steel.

Sure she’s cheesy.  And kind of unbelievable.  Her production values are mediocre and all her actors are Canadian.  But also?  She’s one bad-ass lady.

 

 

Not-to-be-missed: “Visions of Murder” with Barbara Eden, “Danielle Steel’s Family Secrets” with Cheryl Ladd, “Danielle Steel’s Kaleidoscope” with Jaclyn Smith, “The Perfect Daughter” with Tracey Gold, “Her Hidden Truth” with Kellie Martin, “Her Last Chance” with Kellie Martin, “Death of a Cheerleader” with Tori Spelling, “Awake to Danger” with Tori Spelling, “Co-Ed Call Girl” with Tori Spelling.

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Marni holds a B.A. from Vassar in Women's Studies. The degree turned out to be of little practical value, but nonetheless holds a lot of sentimental weight. She's written for BUST, Playgirl, Heeb and gURL.com. Her interests include subverting the patriarchy, reading, and "Law and Order": the Jerry Orbach years. She'd like to know why the inhabitants of the tiny Maine hamlet Cabot Cove so frequently come to violent ends. She'd also like someone to hire her.

65 responses to “Pa-thos [pey-thos, -thohs, -thaws] -noun”

  1. Greg Olear says:

    One of the best opening lines ever to appear on these pages, and it never lets up.

    Once again, and as usual, great great great piece, Marni. My favorite part is the Shannen Doherty paragraph, I think.

    And to add to your attempt to justify your fascination with Lifetime, I offer this, with the caveat that my coffee has not yet kicked in: you watching Lifetime is like me watching football. I know it’s dumb, I know I’m not the target audience, I know the thing itself is possibly morally wrong…yet I do it anyway, and I enjoy it.

    Life is hard enough without beating ourselves up over stuff we enjoy.

  2. Irene Zion (Lenore's Mom) says:

    Marni,
    I don’t know who most of these people are, (except I know who Hillary Swank is.) Although I know who Tori Spelling is, I’ve never seen her act in anything.
    One thing I can do, though, is figure out who the bad guy is in the first five minutes of anything. I have about a 95% success rate. Even if I don’t know what the crime was, I know the bad guy.
    I think that the one thing I should learn from this fact is that I should stop watching TV and going to most movies. I can’t give up movies, though, whether it’s good for me or not. I could probably choose my movies more wisely, though.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      My sister also has this talent. Even when I’m flabbergasted by some fancy plot twist, she’s always seen it coming.

  3. […] the article here: The Nervous Breakdown Comments […]

  4. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    “Sometimes a Lifetime movie is like your Phyllis Schafly-quoting mother-in-law:” HA!!! So would have spattered the computer screen if I’d had tea in my mouth! Oh, Marni, my post-second, start-of-the-third wave feminist heart loves that you know who Phyllis Schafly is. Such icons of the Old Ways shouldn’t be forgotten.

    I admit to watching Lifetime movies for the B movie hilarity that ensues.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      Oh, Phyllis. She’s never seemed to see how her own career is a negation of her theories about women and work.

  5. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    Nice piece. I used to work as a script reader for a company focused on these kind of stories (“women in jeopardy” or simply “women in jep” as they would call them) and I always liked to pretend I was so above all the material. Still I remember watching The Babysitter’s Seduction around that time which, you can’t deny, is a serious nail biter.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      That sounds like, quite possibly, the most amazing job of all time.

      And “The Babysitter’s Seduction” IS a nail-biter. That’s absolutely what they’d call it on the Lifetime website.

  6. Marni!!! I am laughing out loud! As I read this I came to a conclusion: I think Lifetime was born out of the ABC Afterschool Special (and of course I’m ancient enough to remember these in the original first -run) where teens faced tragedy – or near tragedy in every single episode – tragedy that was meant to teach all of us kids sitting at home that sex always led to pregnancy, that cute guy who offers to give you a ride home from school is a rapist and the sweet little old lady who lives down the block from you without any family or friends survived the holocaust.
    Lifetime just took the Afterschool Special and blew it up to full camp and made it gritty and nasty in acting and writing. They showed ( well suitable for TV anyway) the sex, the attempted rape, the horror of the wars ( as played by.. could it be? Michael Gross in an OSS uniform!) And the plots just keep on coming ( as do the actors whose careers have tanked)… Lifetime has indeed turned around some careers… and Marni – you have written a funny, funny piece!

    • Ronlyn Domingue says:

      Brilliant conclusion! Of course, that make so much sense…

    • Marni Grossman says:

      I swore I’d stop being so depressing. And this is my attempt. Hopefully I was at least semi-successful.

      I prefer the Lifetime incarnation of these stories to the afterschool special because there are fewer lessons to learn. I like my high drama without, you know, morals and stuff.

  7. JB says:

    “No One Would Tell” is my personal favorite. In it, Fred Savage kills it as Candace Cameron’s abusive boyfriend. It’s like some disturbing fantasy: Forget the character names and imagine a parallel universe where a manipulative and violent Kevin Arnold dates a shy, unassuming DJ Tanner. To boot: Kevin is convicted of murder and Judge Sally Jessie Raphael presides over the trial.

    It’s as good as Lifetime gets.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      “No One Would Tell”! Watched that in a middle school class called “Teens of the ’90s” (this was, natch, 2000). It’s pretty fantastic. An obvious attempt on Fred Savage’s part to shed his nice-guy image.

  8. Angela Tung says:

    great essay! my fave paragraph: “Lifetime is pink. The type of girl that dots her ‘i’s with hearts. Lifetime is white and middle class and gets supremely excited about Oprah’s “favorite things” episodes. Lifetime is one of those Jamie Lee Curtis Activia commercials.”

    such a perfect description.

    i can’t help but get sucked into a lifetime movie whenever i’m flipping channels. i caught one recently with a pre-twilight kristen stewart as a rape victim who goes mute. somehow i just couldn’t stop watching it.

    in china, for some reason, they show tons of lifetime movies dubbed in mandarin. my cousin and i would stay up late watching them every weekend.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      I’ve seen that movie, Angela. It’s actually based on an acclaimed YA novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. “Speak.”

      I decided not to completely discount Kristen Stewart solely on the basis of that movie.

      How are the movies dubbed? Does it ruin the magic?

      • Angela Tung says:

        the movies are dubbed pretty horribly. young women are always played by an older woman who sounds like she’s trying to seduce everybody, no matter what she says.

        it didn’t ruin the magic for me, but i was desperate any kind of american culture.

  9. Matt says:

    Ah, Lifetime movies. My mother used to turn these on while doing the housework. I think sometimes she may have been attempting to construct the narrative of her life out of bits and pieces of the movies.

    And for as poor and cheesy as these movies can be, they’re still dozens of steps above the schlock D-flicks the SyFy channel pumps out all year long.

    Gerald McRaney is downright terrifying as George Hearst on Deadwood.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      Did the SciFi channel get sued? Is there some overly zealous lawyer to blame for the travesty that is ‘SyFy’?

      • Matt says:

        No, I think it’s just some spectacularly lame-brained idea by the SciFi Channel to rebrand itself for a percieved younger, hipper audience, now that comic books are “cool” & “mainstream” and Battlestar Galactica & the Stargate franchises have been hits. Thus, the travesty that is ‘SyFy.’

        I meant to ask, since you’ve seen so many of these films: What would a Marni Grossman Lifetime Movie Event be like? What plot twists would you write into the script? Who would you cast? What dastardly, villainous role would Michael Gross play?

        • Marni Grossman says:

          “Death of a Cheerleader” is the perfect film. Kellie Martin kills Tori Spelling because she’s too popular and awesome and won’t be friends with her. Then her lawyer tries to blame society. It’s spectacular. It’s also- apparently- a true story.

          I could never write anything so completely and utterly fantastic. Wouldn’t dare try.

          But. Very much like Ellen Muth. Big “Dead Like Me” fan. She was in an excellent little picture called “The Truth About Jane” (in which Stockard Channing discovers that she’s homophobic) and she could use the work…

  10. Ducky says:

    Lifetime rejected my film. Fuck them.

    (In all fairness, no one beats on my leading lady, nor does she beat on anyone. She does, however, stuff her imaginary boyfriend in a footlocker. Doesn’t that count for something?)

    In all seriousness, love your work. I said, “Oh goody!” when I saw your byline just now.

  11. Ducky Wilson says:

    Yea, indeed! Support is everything.

  12. Kimberly says:

    Oh Marni!! Don’t you know that “Ned and Stacy” was the first draft of “Will & Grace”? They dumped Thomas Hayden Church, kept the EXACT SAME FORMAT and Debra Messing), but made the male gay and… voila! Success!

    But I digress. Love this happy, shiny, FUNNY, Marni! I don’t think I’ve made it through even one Lifetime Movie, but my guiltiest guilty pleasure is their new series “Drop Dead Diva”. Can’t get enough of it!

    • Marni Grossman says:

      Kimberly- you would make a fantastic Lifetime movie heroine. Not an in-distress type, but a plucky one who finds True Love.

  13. I loved–loved–this. And I think Susan Sontag would agree. But she’s dead.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      After reading some of Susan Sontag’s adolescent journals, I feel certain she would highly disapprove of me and my frivolous life, imprecise prose and sloppy thinking. But, as you say, she’s dead. So there.

  14. jmblaine says:

    When I read a TNB post I’m collecting my thoughts
    for how I’ll comment at the bottom
    and throughout this I was wondering if Lifetime
    was part of the curriculum of women’s studies
    at Vassar and if not
    how it should be
    and then I began to realize that my stepmother
    loves Lifetime, how she’s always watching Lifetime
    while my Father watches RFDTV and how my Dad talks about watching
    a movie with her on there now and then and the more I read the more
    disturbed I become until I finally realize you havent mentioned John Schnieder
    or Lindsey Wagner or Michael Landon Jr.
    so finally I figure out its Hallmark that they watch all the time
    and not this sordid trash – wait – Stockard Channing?
    What channel is Lifetime?

    • Marni Grossman says:

      Yes, the Hallmark channel movies differ somewhat in that there’s often a Christian-ish theme. Or at least a moral. Like in that one where Chandra Wilson plays a homeless woman.

      Because I’m a godless, soulless heathen, I prefer my entertainment to have no redeeming social value whatsoever.

      • J.M. Blaine says:

        Stockard Channing always
        has redeeming social value.

        even as a kid watching Grease I was like
        “Ooh, I want Rizzo.”

        Someone told me that on Broadway she played Sandy
        and that just messed up my head.

  15. Ah, Marni. I’d love to spend an evening watching TV with you. Actually, I don’t even think I’d be watching the tube. I’d just be watching your reactions to the shows. Yep. That’d be a hoot.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      My father and I have a routine. At 11:00, we watch “Seinfeld” and at 11:30, we watch “The Colbert Report.” The problem is, he also naps between 10:30 and midnight. So I spend a lot of time yelling at him to wake up and he spends a lot of time snoring. It’s our version of “quality time.”

  16. Zara Potts says:

    So happy to see your name on the front page, Marni. You gladden my heart.
    I love your writing. You could write about a cup of cold coffee and I’d be enthralled! This was so great, so many good lines and I could see each and every programme as I was reading. I could hear the cheesy music even.
    Michae Gross is always to blame – this may now be my new mantra!
    xx

    • Marni Grossman says:

      Oh, Zara- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you’re the best!

      I’m feeling particularly self-loathing right now. Unemployed again (calendar season is over) and no job prospects. I’m running out of anecdotes because I never see anyone but my parents. So it’s nice to hear nice things. Much much appreciated.

  17. Erika Rae says:

    Oh, but this was delicious, Marni. You are too, too funny.

    I feel like I know Michael Gross in the form of Steven Keaton *personally* – that perhaps he runs on a feed loop in my nightmares. He is – without a doubt – the scariest mofo out there. Hands down should have been casted for Hannibal Lecter. The embodiment of evil.

  18. Ned and Stacey, forgotten?

    Not as long as I own Season 1 on DVD, Marni. I’ll never forget you, Thomas Haden Church! You made that show, and my heart!

    Debra Messer, you were so-so.

  19. Victoria Patterson says:

    Enjoyed your essay! I learned quite a bit about Lifetime movie channel. I had no idea. Startling to learn that Michael Gross was such a bad ass.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      This is why you are a serious writer and I am not, Victoria. I spend my time watching Kristy Swanson movies and you, obviously, don’t.

  20. Kristen Elde says:

    Deep into the third act, I actually caught myself rubbing my hands with vindictive pleasure. “Boy,” I told myself, “he messed with the wrong girl!”

    Cute! And the piece in its entirety is thoughtful and sharp, amusing…

    Also, Sisters! Shit, how I loved that gem of a show. Was talking about it the other day w/ a bestie, in fact, and we soon became frustrated, in searching online, at the dearth of material out there. Man, I’d buy that boxed set up in a heartbeat.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      I know, right? I’m still waiting.

      I’ve also requested the DVDs of “Once and Again” for the past two years but my sister has yet to buy them for me.

  21. […] Won’t Buy You a Boob JobIs There an Angry God?When Whitman Met LeviPa-thos [pey-thos, -thohs, -thaws] -nounThe Things We Would Not BeHee Hee Ho Ho Hi HiNo Fist Fucking, […]

  22. Brad Listi says:

    Marni, I’m late to the party here, but as usual, really enjoyable stuff.

    Michael Gross does sort of have a menacing quality that you never really give much thought to until you see him in handcuffs at the end of a two-hour melodrama.

    Truth? I don’t think I’ve ever watched a minute of Lifetime television.

    I did just watch The Notebook the other day. It’s been on my list for years. Wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

    I gotta imagine that Lifetime airs The Notebook with regularity.

    I totally understand its appeal.

    And I’m fascinated when things that shouldn’t work actually do work.

    Like Point Break, for example. Or Road House. Or….

    • Marni Grossman says:

      I’ve never seen “The Notebook.” Couldn’t bring myself to.

      I read the book once. I was 12, I think, and grasping for anything. It was the MS Read-a-thon and I’d run out of novels. Recognized- even then- that Nicholas Sparks was, in fact, a terrible writer.

  23. Gloria says:

    Dixie Potts in Designing Women made me a feminist, too! Hilarious. See also: Roseanne Barr in Rosanne and Phylicia Rashad in The Cosby Show. Basically, 80’s television programming turned me into the person that sits here today. Thank god I got over the shoulder pad thing, though.

    I can’t stomach Lifetime movies. I find myself violently yelling at the screen. Though, I did find your list of actors I like who sold their souls to Lifetime to be very compelling.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      Everyone’s got to eat. And if it takes playing, say, a murderous jilted lover, so be it.

      • Gloria says:

        True. It’s like Duke’s post about writing Friday the 13th. I think it’s outstanding that he got paid to write anything in Hollywood. No shame there.

  24. Thomas Wood says:

    I really dug this piece. My buddy and I used to joke (and bare with me here, in case I get insensitive) about this one actress, I forget her name, who was in Jurassic Park. Trouble was, she was also in a lifetime movie that one of us saw, something about a rape victim, and it seemed, the entire time watching Jurassic Park, that she was playing the same character. We couldn’t help ourselves. She’d be limping, holding a shot-gun with too few rounds, yelling, “Run!” and we’d die laughing. It was the same expression on her face as from the lifetime movie. Her acting implied “lifetime rape-victim” (again, realize it’s not, precisely, a laughing matter) and it was too hard and, frankly, too funny, to reconcile that with dinosaurs.

  25. Richard Cox says:

    This is what I get for going off to finish a novel when I should be watching TNB for fantastic posts like this one.

    I mean honestly, this is in my top 5. Top 3 maybe. At the moment I can’t remember one I enjoyed more, to be honest.

    The opening line is awesome, as Greg mentioned, but I love how much ground you cover, how much you say.

    Yes, Lifetime for you is a guilty pleasure. We all have them. But I love how you uncover the various reasons you enjoy watching, how you recognize the content for what it is, and enjoy it anyway. This is my argument for being a closet fan of, say, Def Leppard. I could write an entire blog on why they are an underrated, overlooked band. Even though I recognize that, by my usual standards, they suck.

    But you go way beyond that argument by examining why you or anyone might respond to the simplistic, overwrought themes and easily digestible drama. I also love the Judith Butler quote. I’m sorry to say I know very little about feminism (and certainly not a third wave of it) but I can nevertheless identify with the themes presented here.

    And the way you anchor the entire piece with your typical, self-deprecating, dry humor that allows you to distance you from the content and love it all at the same time.

    Simply fantastic. Honestly. I think we need to devise some kind of Academy Award type recognition system here on TNB (if there isn’t one already) so I can nominate this for best piece of the year. I know it’s only January, but whatever.

  26. Marni! Missed this one when it first went up!
    Your points about gender are always erudite, even when they are trying not to be! I love that about you. You’re so fucking smart that you can dish about Lifetime and make me laugh my ass off, and then remind me of the way the world pigeonholes Women into a singular Target Demographic lump, and the absurd fallacy of that, and the laughs and the provocations are all equally true.
    I don’t watch Lifetime, but that’s because until about a year ago, I watched General Hospital at least 3 times a week, since I was 10 years old, which is effectively the same thing only with more people getting amnesia and returning from the dead. When Tivo came out, GH was the first thing I ever Tivo’d. It was like my grandmother’s nightly highball: the thing that relaxed me with its combination of melodrama and mindlessness, and the continuity of the characters, and the way you can miss a month and come back and the exact same things are happening, except that maybe a different actor is playing the part of one of the characters now. In fact, I once had a dream about my friend Dave Greenberg in which the guy in my dream looked nothing like my friend Dave, and then a voiceover came on in the dream and said, “The part of David Greenberg will now be played by This Guy.”
    I finally stopped watching GH because I was so psychotically busy that even the 40 minutes per day I devoted to it–commercials fast forwarded–was too much. But I yearn of the day when I can give myself 40 minutes per day again of something sedating and lulling like that. It was fucking awesome.

    • Marni Grossman says:

      Being unemployed allows a lot of time for catching up on TV. I’ve never been a GH fan. Mostly because my all-consuming love of Susan Lucci forbids me to watch any soap but AMC. Which, frankly, I rarely do anyway. Somehow soap operas never captivated me in the same way. I think it’s the evil twin thing.

  27. […] She has a thing for Lifetime Movies of the Week. […]

  28. […] MARNI GROSSMAN doesn’t trust Michael Gross. […]

  29. Irene Zion says:

    I’m glad Brad reminded us of this one, Marni.
    It makes me laugh
    when I need a laugh.

  30. […] Lifetime movies, […]

  31. لپ تاپ says:

    لپ تاپ…

    […]Marni Grossman | Pa-thos [pey-thos, -thohs, -thaws] -noun | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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