Fifteen And Pregnant. My Stepson, My Lover. No One Would Tell. These are the kinds of very straightforward titles people usually think of when they hear the phrase “Lifetime movie.” For decades, the network built its reputation on this kind of melodramatic programming. Whether viewers watched because they were honestly swept away by the histrionics or because they wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all, they did watch, and by the mid-’90s the Lifetime movie had established itself as a recognizable brand.
The first Lifetime movie, Memories Of Murder, came out in 1990, and in honor of the brand’s 25th anniversary Washington Post entertainment reporter Emily Yahr has written an absorbing article tracing its history, from its roots as a collection of fear-mongering stories ripped from the headlines of the day (behold the trailer for Sexting In Suburbia below) to now. If Lifetime executives are to be believed, the network is trying to class up its image by luring more high-profile talent and telling less salacious stories. That seems like big talk for a network that recently released Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever and The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story, but Lifetime movies have received a few Emmy nominations over the past couple of years, so the strategy might actually be working.