This week Amber West and I review two new 2012 midseason replacement dramas filled with scandalous client lists and female leads on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Lifetime’s The Client List and ABC’s Scandal.
Back in 2010, the Lifetime Network aired The Client List starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. Love, as she’s been referred to many times in the media since her role on Party of Five, plays a mother who takes a position at a massage parlor to make ends meet after her husband suffers an injury that prevents him from working. She later learns that her fellow masseuses are actually turning tricks and earning a fine living as prostitutes, serving some of the most prominent members of her community.
The fictionalized story is inspired by actual events that took place back in 2004 in Odessa, Texas — my hometown’s neighbor, fifteen miles to the west. It took me a while to put two and two together, but this story captured everyone’s attention in West Texas, especially mine. Why? Because one of my former high school teachers was included in the list of “Johns” at the time. Wow. Right? But I digress…
Now two years later, Lifetime is banking again on the popularity of the story and Jennifer Love Hewitt — The Client List is now a series on the television network for women. The names have changed (Samantha Horton is now Riley Parks); the basic plot has been tweaked (the injured husband is now a husband that has abandoned his family); but the general idea remains the same (a mother goes to work as a prostitute to make a living for her children).
Riley Parks (Hewitt) lives in Beaumont, Texas with her unemployed husband and two small children. Convinced she needs to save her family, Riley hits the pavement in search of work. Unfortunately, she can’t find a day spa hiring any new masseuses. On her way out of another failed interview, Riley runs into an old friend and former co-worker who is doing seemingly well for herself working at a parlor an hour away. Riley accepts her friend’s business card and drives to Sugarland, Texas where she checks out this parlor — The Rub.
The Rub is a legitimate massage parlor operated by Georgia (Loretta Devine) — ninety percent of the time anyway. The other ten percent consists of “The Client List” — guys looking for a little extra, or “happy endings” as we’re more familiar with today. Riley insists that she will not provide any “extras” — even though “the girls that don’t do extras, don’t really do that well” at The Rub. That is until she comes home to discover that her husband has abandoned her and she’s in danger of losing her home.
Riley needs to make more money; She needs a name off “The Client List.”
As expected, she’s uncomfortable at first, but later proves to be a natural. She makes enough in cash tips to pay her mortgage and even saves the marriage of one of her clients. Saves a marriage? Yes; she listens to him and give him advice on how to reconnect with his wife. She even has a heart-to-heart with the wife (Mimi Rogers) after the wife vandalizes Riley’s car, stalks Riley, and follows Riley home.
I know what everyone is thinking — Mimi Rogers — now that’s a big name for a guest appearance. Well, how about Cybill Shepherd? Cybill plays Riley’s mother, Lynette. There’s another big name…
With only two episodes so far, what do I like about The Client List?
First, I was impressed with a few of the one-liners:
As Riley walks around the lobby area of The Rub, she notices that it is “not at all what it looks like on the outside.” Nice pun.
When asking for a flexible schedule to care for her children, Georgia tells Riley that “this job is all about flexibility.” Another nice pun.
I also like Riley’s best friend (Lacey, played by Rebecca Field). She plays a minor role but seems to be a character full of spunk and pizzazz, like when she rushes over to console Riley after her husband’s departure: “I brought some Xanax because I know how you can get,” and then Lacey pops a pill in her mouth.
As much as I appreciate the one-liners and the character of Lacey, there are also a few aspects of the series that bother me.
Like other television programs, The Client List uses an over-the-top Texas accent. As Texans, we’re not supposed to hear our own accents, which is probably why I have such a hard time with TV’s Texas Twang. Not all of us sound like that folks, honest.
And as if Riley’s job isn’t awkward enough as is (rumor has it that The Client List has angered “real life” massage therapists for giving masseuses a bad name), the obvious sexual tension between Riley and her brother-in-law (played by Colin Egglesfield) is really awkward, even for TV.
Will The Client List be like Ghost Whisperer where Love cries in every episode? Maybe, but honestly I hope not. I loved Ghost Whisperer, but watching Love cry on cue was almost worthy of becoming a fun drinking game all in itself — take a shot every time Melinda cries…
But back to the program at hand… Have we seen enough to award The Client List with a rating higher than the SSTV rating? No; Not yet. The Client List is like a pot of water sitting on the back burner where the coils aren’t even red yet. We definitely need more to determine whether or not this series will be worth a watch.
And before we wrap, I’d be remiss to not add the irony of The Client List airing on Lifetime (television for women), considering Love’s The Rub attire is more like television for men… I’m just sayin’. And yes, I’m am a bit jealous. What woman doesn’t want to look like that in lingerie?
What do you think? Have you watched The Client List? Did you watch the 2010 Lifetime movie? I’d love to hear from you!
Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about ABC’s Scandal. From the episode we’ve seen, it looks like Olivia Pope has her hands full with the President of the United States…
Come back next week when Amber and I review two SyFy dramas – Amber revisits the soon to end series, Eureka, and I take a look at the Canadian hit picked up by US television, Lost Girl.
Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.
A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:
GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech