(***UPDATE!*** I can’t believe I didn’t tell you where to read more of Jennifer’s work!)
The first time I found Jennifer Boudinot’s work was through Facebook when a friend posted: “Double Incest Baby!!” Okay? I clicked, I read, I laughed. It was a Lifetime Movie Review for the film Gospel of Deceit. Read this whenever you have the chance and you’re guaranteed cry while you laugh.
But this is what she does. She takes some good and some terrible Lifetime movies and writes about them. Her website is fun and easy to follow with my favorite part, the sidebar that categorizes all of the films with hilarious phrases like “Stamos”, “Worthless Cops”, or “When Bad Lifetime Happens to Good Actresses.”
Jennifer is a freelance and ghost writer for a myriad of books. Right now, she’s the pen and ink behind many household tip books. If you need to get a stain out of your carpet or rid your dog of fleas, Jennifer is your girl. But that’s what’s paying the bills. When it comes to creative writing, Jennifer’s all about the comedy. She’s so funny, that you can now find her movie reviews on The Huffington Post Comedy Section.
So I sat down with Jennifer (via Skype) and we talked candidly about the Women’s network that’s been around since 1982.
I have been watching it ever since I can remember. The first movie I can remember watching is, I Know My First Name Is Stephen. I think I was ten. And I don’t know what my parents were thinking. It was full of adult themes, the kind stuff in it that adults don’t really talk about: kidnapping, molestation, that sort of stuff. It was salacious to me, and since then, Lifetime has always been my favorite trash TV. When I became an adult and got my own cable, I got the Lifetime Movie Network and I was just getting saturated with all of these movies. I decided, I need to start this blog.
After awhile I started making my boyfriend watch these movies with me and he was amazed. “It says this is ‘television for women’ why is it so sexist and racist?'” I had to explain to him that, “this is just the way Lifetime is. They mean well, but they’re ridiculous.”
Well that was the Saturday Ritual with my mother and me, the Soap Operas weren’t on so we’d watch movies about women getting dumped on.
And isn’t it so weird? Why would we find this subject matter so entertaining? There are some of them I don’t enjoy watching, of course. There’s this new movie out about a crooked police officer who torturing women. I just think to myself: No one want to see women being tortured to death.
So who’s your favorite Lifetime Movie Actress? There are a lot of standbys to choose from, but who is yours?
Oh, that’s a hard one. I guess I really like Tori Spelling. She was so maligned in 90210. Of course, my parents didn’t want me watching 90210 when I was a kid (but they did let me watch “I Know My Name is Stephen?”) so I was obsessed with trying to watch it. But yeah, Tori was kind of a lame virgin in the show and in these movies she seems like she’s an intelligent women, but she’s always dumb enough to fall for all the crap you’d have to fall for in a Lifetime movie. At first, she’s such a go get’em woman but then she gets her baby stolen from her. She’s so stupid sometimes. Surprisingly, I have yet to write a review for a movie she’s been in. One day.
Okay, serious question. If Shannon Doherty’s ex-husband breaks out of prison and comes back to their home to murder her, will Shannon have to kill him herself, or will she have a new boyfriend who will protect her?
Interesting. . . I’m gonna say that yes, she does have a new boyfriend, but he’s tied up somewhere. Maybe the ex-husband knocked him out or something. Ex-husband tries to bust in her room, where she’s hiding, tries to kill her. . . but Black Cop saves the day at the last minute!
Yes! There’s always a wise old Black Cop! Or a Black Female Judge. While we’re on the subject of race relations in Lifetime, have you seen very many movies about Black, Latino or Asian women who have their issues addressed?
Well that’s the interesting thing about Lifetime, is they actually do fund movies starring black women. Look at the Queen Latifah version of Steel Magnolias. I don’t know if that would have happened in a general release. I don’t know if she would have gotten the funding to put the movie in theaters. But I’ve seen clips of it and it looks great! It looks like it could be better than the original. But on the other hand, we were just joking about the Black Cop and it shows that Lifetime does a horrible job of integration. For instance, my boyfriend is part black, so I’m sensitive to these representations. We were watching a movie where a white woman was talking to, again, a Black Cop and my boyfriend asked, “Oh, is he her love interest?” I had to tell him, of course not, Lifetime isn’t that progressive!
http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=1362550 I don’t know, I don’t think they believe we’re smart enough to handle it. When I was a kid I loved watching The Cosby Show, it was a great show. But when I was watching it, I never thought I’m watching BLACK people on TV. And critics have boasted that this show was the first to transcend race. Well if that’s the case, why don’t we continue in the same vein? There could be more representation; we can handle it. Maybe they don’t think it will sell, but that’s a terrible assumption. It sounds like laziness on the network’s part. You don’t want to take the time to diversify your cast because it might create too much work? All it takes is a tiny bit of awareness. That’s all.
Lifetime has actually been around since 1982. Up until now it’s gone through a lot of changes. It’s motto is no longer “television for women.” What’s your take on these superficial changes?
Yes, they’ve changed their motto to something really vague like “Your Life, your Time.” How much money did someone get paid for that?! It would look like they’re trying to turn away from the whole “women thing” even though they clearly have women-centric programming. Lifetime Movie Network is now known as LMN, but we still know what’s going on. We know who the audience is supposed to be. Also, I rarely watch the regular Lifetime channel anymore. I refuse to watch shows like Army Wives and Drop Dead Gorgeous. They seem ridiculous.
Unless they’re pulling a TLC or an A&E. Those channels are almost unrecognizable compared to what they used to be. Maybe it will allow them to pick up any show they want, something that might not necessarily be women-centric. If they have their own Jon & Kate, Plus 8, it might pull in that elusive male audience. I don’t see it happening though.
Is anyone actually turning to Lifetime for serious life lessons?
You’d be surprised! Sometimes I get some people who leave really earnest comments. “This movie was really good!” or “I really identified with that character.”
I find that funny. That brings me to the next question. How are seemingly intelligent women still watching Lifetime?
It’s comforting! It also makes you feel better about yourself. It can allow you to be feel a little superior. When you see Alexandra Paul’s daughter get bully on the internet, you can breathe a sigh of relief and say “I’m glad I don’t have an idiot teenage daughter.” There’s a sense of voyeurism too. Lifetime provides that saucy Soap Opera entertainment where you can escape into these terrible plots with these crazy characters who have sex and murder each other.
That’s true, I could have a movie on in the background while I wash dishes. I might not be fully watching it, but it’s comforting to know Candace Cameron is in my living room, making predictably bad life choices.
You’re right. Lifetime does most of the heavy lifting for you. You don’t have to work at it, you don’t have to bring anything to the table. You just let it happen to you.
There’s a marked difference between the Lifetime movies of the 90’s versus the one made today. How do you feel about the new Lifetime?
There was a lot more violence and melodrama in the old movies. I think it revolves around the times. There was a time where every movies had domestic violence in it. That was a hot topic back then. So they made movies to reflect that. There was also another period when they were making a million movies about child custody battles. Now, women worry about what their teenagers are doing on the internet. It’s all about ripping from the headlines.
Also there were a lot more made for “network” TV movies that Lifetime later bought. So you could have actually seen these movies prime-time on CBS or ABC. These old movies were also about teaching us a lesson at the end of the film. In No One Would Tell, Sally Jesse Raphael talked about domestic violence at the end of the movie and we were suppose to learn something.
Plus, these newer movies are bought and made in Canada now. That waters things down a bit.
Ha! Canadians are so polite!
But yeah, I really don’t like the teenage movies. They bum me out. I don’t want to remember how scary and terrible it was to be a teenager. I always feel bad for them, because they’re all 15 and naive. Stay off of the Internet!
Okay let’s talk about the technical aspect of your writing. How has blogging changed your life!
It’s been very beneficial! When I was younger and first came out to New York, my friends and I created a zine, remember those? It was fun, but it was expensive to get it out there. You need advertisement, printing money. But a blog, anyone can do it, it’s totally democratic. Now, could I sell a book about Lifetime Movie Reviews? Probably not, it’s an incredibly niche audience that publishers wouldn’t want to gamble with.
But when you’re online, people will just find you. If they want to read about the stuff you’re writing about, they’ll find you in the vast web. Also, I’m a writer by trade and with this project, I try to be more relaxed about my productivity. I try not to get too down on myself when I haven’t written a post in a while. I’m not obsessed with it. I don’t need any capital to create this, so there’s no pressure to preform.
Speaking of pressure, what’s it like to work for HuffPost?
It was a real revelation when I contacted the Comedy Editor afterwards and told her, hey I did a write up for the Drew Peterson movie. I had a lot of fun doing it and I wrote it in a day, but I don’t normally do these so quickly, I sometimes watch the movie, take a few notes. Come back to those notes another day, and then flesh out a full review. But she wasn’t concerned. She told me that my posts didn’t have to be timely, just funny. And it’s fantastic that that’s what she cares about. Quality. It was really liberating to know that.
Well I love how you’re bringing back a sense of whimsy that’s missing from America. You’ve taken something “really serious” and made it hilarious. I hope you keep doing this and that you keep enjoying it.
Thank you! I do enjoy my work. Thousands of people will read the stuff I’ve ghost written and I might not ever hear what they think of it. With my blog, I might have a handful of followers, but if one person leaves a comment that says something like: “That was really funny” or “Yeah, I really thought that character was pervy too!” That really makes me excited about my creativity.
(***UPDATE!*** I can’t believe I didn’t tell you where to read more of Jennifer’s work! http://www.lifetimemoviereviews.com/)