Back in 1990, Lifetime premiered its first-ever original made-for-TV movie, Memories of a Murder. The film followed a woman (Nancy Allen) who hits her head and gets amnesia, causing her to forget that a psychopath is trying to kill her family. It set expectations for the network’s movies for years to come: over-the-top stories about women in danger that were either cautionary tales, survival narratives, or both. This fall, the network keeps the tradition going with the release of its 500th original film.
The milestone movie is a prime example of another of Lifetime’s signifiers: a ripped-from-the-headlines retelling. The Murdaugh Murders: The Movie stars Bill Pullman as Alex Murdaugh, the real-life patriarch of a well-connected family who murdered his wife and son. The movie joins a long line of existing documentaries and series unraveling the details of the family’s scandals — Alex’s son Paul was involved in a deadly boating accident two years before his death — and the flaws of the justice system. Lifetime’s version, however, marks the first scripted depiction of the case.
The Murdaugh Murders: The Movie, which premieres on October 14, comes as part of this fall’s “Truly Unbelievable Movie Event.” Starting on September 16, Lifetime will debut a new ripped-from-the-headlines film every Saturday through October 28. Kicking things off is How She Caught a Killer, based on the true story of a rookie detective (played by network mainstay Sarah Drew) who went undercover as a sex worker to catch a serial killer.
Most of the lineup uses a tried and true Lifetime approach, making sure viewers know from the subtitle that this movie is “The (Name of Well-Known Criminal/Victim Here) Story.” There’s Amish Stud: The Eli Weaver Story starring Luke McFarlane and Kristen Vangness. Then there’s Bad Romance: The Vicky White Story starring Wendi McLendon-Covey, and of course, Would You Kill for Me: The Mary Bailey Story starring Melissa Joan Hart and TikTok star Celina “Spooky BooBoo” Myers.
Included in this lineup is Ariana Madix’s highly anticipated Lifetime debut in Buying Back My Daughter, premiering October 7. It not only marks the reality star’s most visible acting role to date, but is another example of Lifetime ripping things straight from the headlines — Madix was offered the role in the aftermath of her extremely public breakup on Vanderpump Rules. With the network keeping its finger so closely on the pulse, it will have no lack of material for future original films.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.
TOPICS: Murdaugh Murders: The Movie, Lifetime, Amish Stud: The Eli Weaver Story, Bad Romance: The Vicky White Story, Buying Back My Daughter, How She Caught a Killer, Would You Kill for Me: The Mary Bailey Story, Ariana Madix, Bill Pullman, Kirsten Vangsness, Luke Macfarlane, Melissa Joan Hart, Sarah Drew, Wendi McLendon-Covey