Have We Been Conditioned to Hate Lifetime TV?

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I grew up in Greeneville, TN. I lived there until I was 10 years old. Our town was extremely small and nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. We had three claims to fame:

  1. We were the birthplace of the only president ever to be impeached, Andrew Johnson. Until Bill Clinton came along.
  2. Some other random fact about Nathanael Greene.
  3. We are the birthplace of Park Overall, who once starred in a Lifetime TV movie with Kirsten Dunst.

The last one always seemed to be the most exciting for me. It was the one people seemed to brag about the most. It was tangible. Someone who was from our town was on TV.

My mom came home one day from the dental office where she worked as a dental hygienist and was so stoked that she could barely stand it. She had cleaned Park Overall’s teeth and the whole office posed for a picture with her! Park Overall, the girl with, like, three lines in “Kindergarten Cop” and her own Lifetime movie!

I was filled with excitement, and bragged to my fellow fifth-grade friends the next day about my mother’s run-in with a high-profile debutante. Walking into the classroom at Hal Henard Elementary School, I knew I had to play coy and not spill the deets too soon. Finally, a boy I sat beside began talking about what he had done the weekend before. His mom had taken him to the Wal-Mart to get some new Nintendo game.

“Oh, really, Mikey?” I replied. “Well, my mom met Park Overall and she is a famous actress!”

“What movie was she in?” said Mikey.

Fifteen and Pregnant on Lifetime with KIRSTEN DUNST, MIKEY!”

“Oh. Well, I’ve never seen it and Lifetime is lame and for girls.”

Everyone laughed. I was crushed. My shining moment of looking really cool in front of my classmates had crashed and burned. I had learned a few very important lessons:

  1. No one knew who Park Overall was – even though she was born in your hometown, basics!
  2. I needed to become an actress and book a job way better than a dumb gig on Lifetime.
  3. Things that are girl-y are dumb and you should feel dumb for liking them.

Fast forward to the present.

When the NWSL announced on Thursday that they had struck up a three-year deal with Lifetime my immediate reaction was, well, not good. I slammed my phone on the bed and ran into my husband’s office.

“Shane! Ugh! The NWSL is going to be on Lifetime! Lifetime!” I groaned. An irritated look was smeared across my face.

“Yes. I heard. And?” Shane flatly responded.

“It’s Lifetime!”

“Okay … and?”

I couldn’t understand why he was so unfazed and on board with this deal. I stormed out of his office hoping that someone, anyone – possibly on the internet – would understand my frustration.

To my bewilderment, Twitter was ecstatic. Everyone was loving the partnership with Lifetime. I couldn’t grasp it. In fact, the only people I could see expressing doubts were men. Men who were upset because the network didn’t directly market to them (A great argument against this sentiment written by our very own Elizabeth Wawrzyniak, can be seen here). But, even those were few and far between.

A question suddenly came to mind:

Have I become conditioned to be a Lifetime TV hater?

Why do I feel so strongly against a network who is committed to helping a league I love so much? Why am I so unhappy with the fact that it’s Lifetime as opposed to a different network?

Besides the obviously traumatic discovery of my childhood classmates’ true feelings towards the network, I also realized it’s quite possible that I have been fed this impression from the entertainment industry itself.

I moved to Los Angeles four years ago to pursue a career in acting. I have since moved on to pursue other avenues in my life, but the few things I did learn during that time have been ingrained on my brain. When you start auditioning for larger roles in Hollywood, you’re told time and time again that you’re supposed to book roles on big networks, not cable networks. Many agents and managers in Los Angeles look down upon actors who only book roles in “Lifetime TV” movies. They consider Lifetime, and networks similar to Lifetime, to be trash TV.

And it’s not exactly like anyone in the industry is trying to change their minds. Saturday Night Live has satirized the network for their women-centric films. Family Guy has also taken a stab at the network with these super-original jokes calling the network “Television For Idiots.” It’s become a cheap joke. One that I’ve decided today, I’m tired of hearing.

Look Hollywood, I know you’re really upset that “Unreal” is actually a great show, but please stop trying to shove the “Lifetime TV = shitty programming” argument down my throat simply because you’re too lazy to create a better joke. We get it. They make movies about women. They make reality TV shows. Please stop trying to convince us that you are above this so-called “trash” because the last time I checked The Celebrity Apprentice is in its 15th season.

It’s done. I’m on board with Lifetime. Let’s get this deal started.