Monday, September 7, 2020

Babysitters In Glass Houses Most Definitely Throw Stones

Something that has become endemic to me during the pandemic: turning on LMN (the Lifetime Movie Network) in the background only to find myself rearranging my day to make sure I can finish watching a random filmed-in-a-week thriller.

See, the Lifetime movie has evolved over the last few years in rather fascinating ways. This is a network that employs more women behind the camera than any other, and while many a story feels like a simple boildown of madonna vs. whore, the truth is, a lot of these stories are secretly celebrating female agency. 

Thus, when a title like "The Babysitter's Revenge" rolls in front of my eyeballs, I now know that I'm either getting campy trash or surprising smart commentary. Either way, the kitchens will be immaculate.

Quick Plot: Carrie is a frustrated 17-year-old with some real concerns. Her single mother was ousted from her city council office following a scandal that suggested she had sexually harassed an employee. To help make ends meet, Carrie works hard as the go-to neighborhood babysitter, staying busy after the kids go to sleep by snooping around their wealthy parents' things. 

Such a hobby proves handy: when Carrie catches one of the town moms sorting coke, she's able to raise her rates without protest. If only she could find similar dirt on her sworn enemy: Madeline Cooper.

Played by Bree Turner, Madeline is a queen bee who grew up to be a participation trophy wife. She's perfectly fit and beautifully dressed, but it seems like aside from a fairly whiny toddler named Daniel and handsome-enough husband, she hasn't quite reached the heights she aimed for. 

Naturally, she's decided to take that out on her neighbors. After Carrie's mom refused to take Madeline's request to gate the neighborhood seriously, Madeline cleverly framed her to strip the city council position away. The war continued in more passive aggressive ways, from Madeline having Carrie's friend's car towed to Carrie staging a temporary kidnapping of Daniel to make sure Madeline's only responsible babysitter is the very teenager trying to take her down.

The Babysitter's Revenge, also known (perhaps more fittingly) as Glass Houses, is the perfect example of how a simple LMN quickie, when made with a tad more thought, can actually be something interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if this was greenlit in an old fashioned Roger Corman manner of some content manager throwing out "The Babysitter's Revenge" as a movie title and screenwriter Barbara Kymlicka (Lifetime veteran responsible for EIGHT titles in 2019, and SIX and counting in 2020) decided to do something a little more interesting.

Directed by newcomer Sarah Pellerin, The Babysitter's Revenge is purely about women: Carrie's frustrations with the unfairness of her and her mother's life, and Madeline's attempts to mask her unhappiness by presenting herself as the perfect suburbanite mom. The few men that pass through are mere accessories to the story, which is, at its heart, a power play between a sharp teenager and a bitter, type-A adult. There's far more going on than expected (or often needed) in a movie like this. 

High Points
The fact that this movie opens on five minutes of dialogue about events that have already happened with characters we've yet to meet is a weird vote of confidence in its audience, trusting that we're willing to listen and learn about the two women whose story we're going to be following

Low Points
Bree Turner is glorious as Madeline and gets a wonderfully rich finale freakout, but it's incredibly unsatisfying that we don't get anything of her future in the coda. This woman can still take on the world! Give us a hint at where she's setting her sights!

Lessons Learned
Cell phone volume has come a long way, so much so that you can blast music one house away and get a noise complaint

Always assume that your babysitter is snooping

It's very easy to get away with murder (in an LMN world), providing it's of your real target's more promiscuous best friend*

*FUN FACT: Promiscuous best friends die so often in movies that I write about that when I don't properly discard previously used blog images, I get messages like this when saving:

Like most LMN originals, The Babysitter's Revenge isn't necessarily worth investing energy into finding, but if it floats on your screen when you've got time to spare, it's a fun, surprisingly clever way to pass the time. 

Plus, kitchen porn. 


  1. Is there anywhere online to watch this?
    I had a love/hate thing with Grimm, where Bree Turner was pretty much all sweetness and light... so I'd be curious to see her as... whatever term you'd use for what Madeline is.

    1. Hm, I'm not finding it by either title on JustWatch, but it's probably on whatever the Lifetime Movie app is.

      I never thought about it, but I think baseball and Lifetime are the main reasons we still keep cable!