Monday, May 14, 2012

Lifetime Movie Reviews: Sexting in Suburbia

Yesterday was Mother's Day as we all well know since there were hoards of disgruntled people crowding the card racks at Target and buying all the potted plants that weren't nailed down.  My family and I went out and celebrated a bit with lunch and shopping on Saturday which left Sunday for me nothing.  It was magical:  I took a long bath with a copy of Garden and Gun and mango exfoliator, gave myself a facial, and wore my favorite maxi dress to lay on the couch all day and mainline fresh strawberries out of a bucket from a farm.  My kids gifted me with earrings, sunglasses and a nightgown, a well-thought out gift from each that was so sweet that just thinking about it makes me want to tear up.

I used my time on the couch to watch Lifetime movies and baseball, which really, is just about the best combination ever. Until this weekend, I hadn't really watched a Lifetime movie in for freaking ever, a sad fact that relates the complete state of craziness in my house at this moment of our lives.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to be able to throw myself upon the mercy of the network and let them show me whatever it was they were showing--I wasn't picky.

And it was a good thing too, because Sexting In Suburbia is not a good movie.  It is pretty dad-blame terrible, to be completely honest with you.  It is completely nonsensical at points, and the characters are not even really that likable.  But here's the thing:  when I really started thinking about it, I realized that Sexting In Suburbia is really just about the most Lifetime-y of all Lifetime movies.  It demonizes sex, raises the mother to the role of judge, jury and executioner, and has the most elementary views of good and evil imaginable.  Basically, what I'm saying is that if you are a high school aged virgin who writes heavy handed fiction about death and irony and the problems of the world today, you will love this movie.  If you aren't, you're going to need some booze to get through it.

I'm just going to synopsize the movie for you, assuming of course, that you have no desire to really watch this movie.   What I'm basically saying is that this is going to contain "spoilers" insofar that one can spoil a movie that is pretty damn predictable.  And, you'll have to take some of this with a grain of salt, because when I started watching this movie yesterday, I didn't know I would be doing this, so there might be moments where my memory fails miserably.  I apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause you, although I really feel like I'm doing you a pretty solid public service in all this because I'm basically giving you two hours where you can eat, apply self-tanner, buy shoes online and send rambling text messages to your significant other.  YWIA.

The movie begins with some chick walking down the hallway of a high school, and people are pointing and laughing at her as they are wont to do in these movies.  Does anyone actually have this experience, I wonder? Maybe they do, because kids really are horrible beings, but I can't think of a single time in my high school experience where the entire student body just ganged up on one particular person.  I can't remember anyone really being able to raise that amount of concern toward ANY one thing, even important things like pizza or how freaking hot Coach Cassell's room was.  Anyway, the girl, who is really strikingly pretty I might add, opens her locker and a veritable avalanche of condoms falls out.  Again, I have to draw an analogy here to my own experience:  people in my high school were way too poor to ever fill someone's locker with condoms.  Seventy-five cents apiece, y'all--not for the budget prankster.   If anything, someone might take a single condom, tape it to the door of the locker and then stand back and guffaw when the locker's owner finds it.  I guess this is why the movie is titled "Sexting in Suburbia" and not "Sexting in Appalachia."

Anyway, prophylactic queen here takes the whole incident pretty horribly, and she goes home, vlogs, and then hangs herself.

(I will add that the only time I have ever seen someone vlog, it has been in a Lifetime movie.  Do people actually do that?  If you are a vlogger, please send me a link to your vlog, and please do not kill yourself.)

Now, this is one part of the movie I had a small beef with.  While Dina is supposedly doing the deed, her mother is hard at work as a real estate agent, which is one of the few Lifetime movie approved professions for a woman.  The mom is doing her best to fix a leaky faucet and really sale this house, all the while we know that her daughter is at home offing herself, presumably because mom is too busy to talk to or watch her vlogs.  And I  get that Lifetime isn't totally saying that all working mom's are negligent, because, seriously, why would they alienate more than half of their viewing base, but it really plays into the working-mom-guilt-dialectic and I really don't think it should.  The moral of story should be that the girl is driven to suicide because of sexting, and that's what the movie tells us....kind of.  The whole mishmash of Mom at work/girl hanging herself is not needed and really should have been avoided.  Bad move, Lifetime.  And, of course, as soon as Dina kills herself, we never see her mom actually working again because mom has dedicated herself to finding the person/sexts that drove her daughter to her untimely death.  Yeah, it takes a kid killing herself to teach her mom that she doesn't need to pay the mortgage or buy that 150th pair of shoes at Nordstrom. Moms these days, AMIRITE?!?!  *headdesk*

Dina's mom, Rachel, starts talking to friends and ends up finding the sext on Dina's phone.  Bless her heart, you guys.  That had to be horrible.  And then we flashback to homecoming, which is when the whole thing apparently started.  Dina and her boyfriend, Mark, had planned to turn on Boyz II Men's I'll Make Love to You and get totally carnal that night, and Mark had planned this shit, even renting a room at some classy hotel (Mark, for real, can you send me the place of your lovepad, cause I'm trying to get out of town this weekend, and boy is it a bitch trying to find a nice shaggin' palace?).  But Dina just isn't ready, you guys!  And I'm not making fun of that, because everyone is ready at different times, you know, and no one should ever have sex when they don't want to, EVER EVER EVER even if they are a horrible made-up Lifetime movie stand-in for imagined female purity.  But the whole thing just reeks of good girl/bad girl stuff, so Dina, I'm giving you the eyeroll on this one.  A little one!  Sorry!  Don't hang yourself!  Dina goes home and skips the afterparty, but then she thinks better of it, and takes a naked pic in her mirror to send to Mark.  And I'll say that as far as naked pics go, it's pretty tame.  Due to the American news media, I tend to believe that teenagers are all the horniest, craziest things alive, what with their rainbow parties and butt-chugging.  When you say "teenage sext," I'm thinking that it must involve full spread-eagle pictures, a lollipop and maybe some nipple clamps.  Not Dina.  Dina is the Jackie Kennedy of high school sexting.

And really, she shouldn't have bothered because at the time she is sending it, Mark is banging some chick named Skyler who is blonde and a whore.  Skyler is set up as the total villain in this movie--she not only lets Mark cry his heart-broken tears of semen into her vagina, but she also takes the field hockey captainship from Dina.  Whore!  She's also a total bitch to everyone.  And we're set up from the very beginning to see that she has the motive and opportunity to send out the sext to, like, totally everyone because she was boffing the recipient at the time it was sent!  Did I mention she's blonde?  STONE THE WHORE.

Rachel kind of pieces this all together and sees how the sext has gone viral, and this is when her Mommy-Sense starts tingling and she's all "FUCK ALL" to all sense of normalcy and common decency.  The school will not give her the answers she craves because of some shit about "privacy concerns."  Oh my God, whatever.  It's not like it is a law or whatever....oh, it is?  Well, that's not what my MOMMY BOOK tells me.  Rachel writes an op-ed to her local paper about the situation and it goes on the front page of the paper because evidently it is a very slow news week and the paper does not actually, you know, publish stories written by the people they pay to write.  And suddenly, she is the town pariah.  Dina's grave gets vandalized (someone spray paints "Dina Von Slut" on it, which while catchy, I have a very hard time believing someone would actually do, but then again, I've been known to have a way too lofty opinion of the human race), and someone puts a bunch of pictures of nooses in her Rachel's mailbox.  Then someone throws a brick through Rachel's window which also happened to Althea Tibbs after she gets raped by some white guys in Sparta, Mississippi on In the Heat of the Night.  What I'm saying is, the brick throwing is a little out of place here because we're not exactly dealing with the klan here--we're dealing with a bunch of suburban teenagers and their Adderall-addled parents.  None of this makes sense.  I think this is around the time I opened my first lovely bottle of Amstel Light.

Mark and Rachel then get together and realize that really, this is all Skyler's fault because she's a total slut, you guys.  For a movie that is about sexting and the dangers of slut shaming, this movie does a whole lot of....slut shaming.  So, of course, Rachel confronts Skyler about the whole thing because why the hell not.  It turns out that Rachel and Skyler's mom are all BFF's, which I'm sure was told earlier in the movie but that I totally didn't figure out because I'm evidently too stupid to understand Lifetime movies.  God.  So Skyler denies the whole thing and then Skyler's mom fixes some drinks and Rachel goes to the bathroom to cry and finds evidence of all the vandalism and intimidation stuff in there, OMG!  God, she's a slut!  I want to kill Skyler right now, the whore!

Rachel goes to the police with this info and asks them to arrest Skyler because policemen can totally just do a citizen's bidding if you ask really nice.  The police counter with the fact that they have information that it was not Skyler who sent out the text (she only sent it out once), but instead, it was Claire who was supposedly Dina's best friend, who is a brunette with bangs so is totally not.a.slut.  THE WORLD DOES NOT MAKE SENSE ANYMORE.  Also not making sense?  That whole Fourth Amendment that protects us all from unlawful search and seizure and having your cell phone records shown to a private citizen.  Except for, you know, moms in duress (I'm pretty sure that's how the framer's wanted it.  The Constitution breathes!).

Rachel speeds home and finds Claire in her house (?) watching old vlogs on Dina's computer as she is wont to do, I guess.  Claire starts babbling on about sorry she is for ruining Dina's life, and she is such an adorkable little slut-shaming driver to suicide!  Except it turns out that all she did was rat Dina's sluttish ways out to the field hockey coach (and she only did that because Skyler kind of forced her into it), and Dina was thrown off the team and lost her scholarship to college, which was the last straw.  Claire denies sending the texts, because she didn't even have her phone to send them, you guys--she totally left it in the limo by accident because she is just that kind of girl!  It's like if Zooey Deschanel was a spineless high school sidekick!  Cute!

We get a lot of flashbacks in all of this, and the only reason I tell you this is because one of them featured my favorite scene in the movie.  When Dina gets thrown off the team, she confronts Skyler and Claire about it, and in the process, slams a field hockey stick into Skyler's nose and bloodies it.  IT.WAS.AWESOME.  Which, of course, means that Dina has to go home and kill herself because she did something that differentiated herself from a doormat.  Funny how that works.

So who sent the sexts you guys?  Skyler?  Mark?  Claire?  Dina herself, overcome with the regret of having once considered being a sexual being?  NOPE.  It was totally....SKYLER'S MOM.  Rachel was stabbed in the back by her very best friend because Skyler's mom was totally jealous that her kid didn't get the scholarships and boyfriends and....was a total slut.  So, she did the adult thing and sent a naked picture of a teenager to 40 of the teenager's closest friends.  And she would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for her meddling daughter fucking around on her phone.  Oh, and the fact that she LIKE AN IDIOT kept the naked picture of Dina on her personal cell phone.  God, criminals these days.  I can't even with the stupid.  Skyler finds the photo and puts it all together because maybe she is the smartest person in this movie, and gets so upset that she runs outside, gets in her family's kickass Audi (MY GOD I WANT THAT CAR) and drives like a maniac on a wet road.  Did I mention she is texting as she does this?  Because she is.  What happens next, Lifetime viewers?  You guessed it:  she crashes, and we get this amazing shot of her bloody hand holding a really ghetto looking flip phone.  First off:  kudos to Lifetime for giving me two lessons in this movie.  1)  Sexting is bad and will kill you and 2) Texting while driving is bad and will kill you.  Second off:  the moral of the story is totally don't buy a ghetto cell phone without voice text apps.  Like duh.

Skyler's mom gets arrested for distribution of child porn and Rachel visits her in the hospital where she finds out that Skyler will never walk again, so there goes that field hockey scholarship she totally stole from Dina because obviously these are the only two girls in the nation that can play field hockey for this fictional college.  Rachel goes home to watch Dina vlog about pink gerber daisies, which was totally my wedding flower so Dina and I are kind of linked in a cosmic, dead/not dead, slut/not slut way.  In the middle of this, Claire shows up, which is really starting to get creepy at this point.  She may be a manic pixie dream ghost, you guys.  Anyway, Claire takes her to the school where she is having this very special program in the auditorium and is asking all the students to give up their cell phones for the rest of the semester as penance for driving a girl to her death because you know, tit for tat.

I told you that none of this made sense.

I am sorry that this is so freaking long, but I hoped you enjoyed it.  On the cosmic scale of Lifetime movies, with 1 being any kind of schlock they show at Christmas and 5 being "The Two Mr. Kissels", this rates about a 2.  I'm giving it that for overwhelming Lifetime-iness and also because I like it when brunettes come out on top.  Yea brunettes!  Keep it unsexy, girls!


  1. Hey lady, you don't have your account set up so when you comment I can reply via email. It's in your blogger settings. Anyway, my top is new from Target. Bought it about a week ago. It was in that section that's kind of juniors but also women's at the same time if you know what I mean. Hope that helps!

  2. Totally enjoyed your writing and your whole Lifetimey commentary. That scene in the girls locker room was so . . . like a "Come to Jesus" meeting. It's like a slut is worse than a bitch, and spineless is worse than a slut. I really wasn't clear on all that.

    So, glad you got to see it, review it and receive those great gifts for Mother's Day.

  3. Thank you! It was totally a "Come to Jesus" moment. Love that phrase and that is the best description of it ever.