Maybe I was attracted to this Washington Post article about Lifetime's attempt to make itself over for a younger crowd because of the made-for-TV movie "Crazylove," which, embarrassingly, ate up a good portion of my Sunday afternoon. Lifetime has a reputation for tear-jerker movies, but the station's comedic potential has sadly been ignored. At one point, the film's female protagonist has a breakdown in the supermarket because she's unable to find a particular type of gourmet olives; she smashes the unsatisfactory bottles on the ground, violently chucks them at an alarmed security guard, and shakes the shelves like a caged chimpanzee. She's then committed to a mental institution, where she falls in love with a chain-smoking schizophrenic who loves her in a way that her neglectful, marriage-phobic boyfriend never could. Genius! If this isn't tapping into the American female psyche, I don't know what is.
Snarkiness aside, there is certainly an audience for these stories (whether for comedy or distraction). There's a level of self-awareness and intentionality in Lifetime's programming, just as there is in its literary counterparts, chick lit and beach reads. They know they're cheesy -- what of it?
But now the station is trying to maintain the cheese factor while adding new programming to attract younger viewers. Among the most surface-level changes: Lifetime's recognizable "television for women" slogan has been changed to the tenderhearted "find your own story" (which, interestingly, is an attempt to avoid estranging potential male viewers), and the logo has lost its italicized, "feminine" font. The station is also adding a few reality shows and "a drama about a mindreading FBI agent," according to the Post. Just as it would be refreshing to see chick lit redefined (most fiction readers are women, after all, so there's no real need to define this fluffy subset as women's reading), this is all kind of encouraging.