When You Make Lifetime Movies, Everyone Wants to Tell You Their Story

Screengrab, 'Pregnancy Pact' Trailer: YouTube

Still, the classic Lifetime movies were the rare piece of pop culture where everyone was in on the joke. As executives talk excitedly about the channel’s new direction, they’re well aware of the extreme curious passion for the low-budget, tabloid-themed movies of Lifetime’s early days. The overwrought acting; the incredible titles; the out-of-control drama; the plots that centered around all the terrible things that could happen, ever. Did we mention the incredible titles?

“Yes, I’ve heard every horrible event in almost everyone’s life I’ve met,” confesses Arturo Interian, the network’s vice president of original movies who started at Lifetime in 2001 and still gets idea pitches from strangers. “I’ll put it this way: People will tell you about some physical ailment they’ve had and it’s very awkward to say, ‘Well, you know, I’m sorry about your terrible limp. But it’s not really a movie.’ ”

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“I get e-mails constantly from everyone that anytime something horrible happens, they just assume it’s a Lifetime movie,” Interian said. “It’s like, ‘Some cannibal ate his wife; Arturo, make this a movie!’”

—From “The Delightfully Weird History of Lifetime Movies,” Emily Yahr’s retrospective of the network and iconic franchise for the Washington Post. Over the last few years, Lifetime has made a concerted effort to distance itself from its “guilty pleasure” image. Yahr chronicles the network’s quarter-century history in her piece. Of particular note is the network’s relationship to women: even as it retools its voice and image, the network continues to be “a haven for movies about complicated female protagonists (still a rarity in Hollywood) as well as female directors.” About half the network’s films are helmed by women, a statistic that takes on particular weight when compared to the staggeringly low industry standard of around 6 percent.

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