Lifetime movies are enticing in the same way multi-day marathons of Law & Order (LMNOP, etc.) on a single cable station can be. You accidentally catch five minutes of it while you’re walking around brushing your teeth and before the first DINK DINK, you can’t look away. In a Lifetime Movie, what grabs you is the initial 2-minute glimpse of a life just above the one you may be wishing you have, until the camera angle turns voyeuristic in a way rivaling some of the best awkward camera angles since Columbo episodes of the early 70’s.
Except for the occasional “The [Real Life Heroine Name] Story,” Lifetime Movies leave you with doubt. Is your sister plotting to steal your ferret and your cookie business? Is your recently reappeared high school boyfriend plotting to steal your sister? Why do you even have a cookie business when customers can be cheap bastards and perfectly good refrigerated cookie dough exists and a person can make their own cookie gift package with pretty boxes and tissue paper from the Dollar Tree. If they manage to not eat the cookie dough before making cookies to fill the pretty boxes, that is. I’ve heard it tastes good raw. Someone told me.
Hallmark Movies, on the other hand, are a cheap, happy, cozy trip to a universe where it’s always almost Christmas or G-rated Halloween. Both the man the protagonist desires and Guy B who quietly desires the protagonist from across the room are affable enough to do well as sexy, hip Home Shopping hosts. Not only that, but by the end of the movie, all three of them will share the same shabby chic table at the twinkly mom-and-pop coffee house on the town square, enjoying pumpkin lattes and seasonal victuals together. The whole room’s still talking about last weekend’s barn dance that saved the horse therapy farm. And, oh, look at that, there’s a pretty new girl in town and it seems she’s got flirty eyes for Guy B.
To wrap it up, Hallmark is clearly the winner in this race. Lifetime movies can leave you wondering what even happened for the past two hours. By the end of a Hallmark Movie, you may not even care, but you’ll go to bed with a smile.