Pop Culture

Netflix 5: The Made-for-TV Movie

My husband doesn’t understand my odd love for made-for-TV movies. I can’t quite explain it either, except that melodrama and overacting appeal to me on a deeply comforting level. I can waste days, entire weekends even, with the TV tuned to Lifetime Movie Network.  I sometimes lament that major networks have stopped making them – remember when all three big ones each made an Amy Fisher film?

When you’ve got a few hours and some spare brain cells to kill and you’ve watched all the movies running on Lifetime, I’ve culled a few “choice” picks from Netflix Instant queue to keep you amused.

Mistaken Identity ““ Melissa Gilbert and Rosanna Arquette star in this made-for-TV movie about two moms who discover their babies were switched. Oh no, do they learn important lessons about what makes a family? (I spoil nothing by assuring you they do.)

Look, Melissa Gilbert has been sleep walking through made-for-tv movies since she left Little House on the Prairie, but Rosanna Arquette? She had a real career!

The Initiation of Sarah ““ This 1976 “gem” combines two fantastic genres: witches and sorority girls who make pacts with demons. Two sisters go off to college and pledge rival sororities. One of them has telekinesis! I’m pretty sure this is a Carrie rip-off!  I couldn’t care less! There’s some rivalry and witchcraft and blah-blah-blah, pass me my bottle of wine and a straw.

Perennial C-list tv-movie actresses Morgan Fairchild and Shelly Winters “star.” The film was remade a couple of years ago with Summer Glau in an important role – if that’s more your cup of tea, you’ll have to subscribe to the DVD plan to catch it.

Too Young to Die ““ Brad Pitt is in this.

What? That’s not enough of a selling point? TYtD falls into the “based on real events” category, where a loose set of “facts” are manipulated to the extent the creators won’t get sued. Juliette Lewis is a young girl with a tragic backstoryâ„¢ who falls into a life of drugs and bad boyfriends, and then accidentally kills someone.  Trial and debate over morality of the death penalty ensue.


Confessions of Sorority Girls ““  Set in the ’50s, life in a popular sorority is thrown into chaos when “bad girl” Sabrina is forced by her mother to join. Sabrina plots to overthrow the sorority president, steals boyfriends, seduces professors, and wears scandalous clothing, oh my! Also, she’s a redhead, so basically she’s beyond redemption.

Alyssa Milano, back when TV movies were her bread and butter, and Jamie Luner star.


The Burning Bed ““ If you weren’t banging around in the early ’80s, you might not know that this movie is Kind of a Big Deal. Before this, Farrah Fawcett was just one of those pretty blondes from Charlie’s Angels. She certainly wasn’t considered a “real” actress, even though she had been staring off-Broadway in Extremities. And then The Burning Bed happened.

Based on the true story of Francine Hughes, who set fire to the bed her abusive husband slept in and was eventually found not-guilty by reason of insanity, the movie earned Fawcett first of four Emmy nominations and kicked off a new phase of her career. From here, she starred in the movie adaptation of Extremities and a slew of acclaimed made-for-TV movies including Poor Little Rich Girl and Small Sacrifices (neither of which appear to be available on DVD).

By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

10 replies on “Netflix 5: The Made-for-TV Movie”

I truly discovered the wonder of made-for-TV movies my senior year of college – the dorms had cable, which meant Lifetime, so ‘d put it on while working on notes for my thesis and then end up focusing completely on the movies instead. Added most of these to my queue – sorority girls and witches and Brad Pitt, yes please!

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