Lifetime is a network known for producing content that's prone to elicit an eye roll, but the network has decided that 2014 is the year it will eschew the baby-mama-crackwhore-sister-wife-business-lady dramas for some heavy duty real shit. That real shit, my friends, is the lowbrow art of the unauthorized television movie. In fact, Lifetime is going full throttle and hitting us with two: the unauthorized Saved By The Bell movie and an unauthorized Brittany Murphy biopic.
The word "unauthorized" never evokes good feelings (remember those unauthorized biographies about the Hanson brothers that you could purchase at the drug store when you were hormonal tween? No? Was that just me?), but somehow, the Saved By The Bell movie and the Brittany Murphy biopic seem to be on opposite ends of the television movie spectrum. Saved By The Bell looks like it will be a guilty pleasure, and the Brittany Murphy biopic looks downright offensive.
So, obviously, this begs the question, "but how could there be such a disparity between the two?" Well, some source materials are ready for a little indulgence (like SBTB), and other sources (Murphy) are, well... not. As someone who loves a guilty pleasure (both the television and the edible kind) I can tell you this: there's a way to make a good bad television movie, and this is how.
Pick a fun source material
Saved By The Bell: fun! A silly theme song! Brittany Murphy's death: not fun at all.
Pick something everyone loves, but still wants the secret, juicy inside story
If you find yourself wishing that there was more backstabbing, love triangles, and Mean Girls-esque stuff happening, great! Make a movie about it.
Don't pick something that's actually scandalous
You'll probably just offend people. A good bad television movie is filled with stuff that's candy-scandalous. Think Kardashian, not car-dash-abortion. Or something.
Ask yourself, "would I watch this if it was on the Internet?"
If it's something you'd watch while you were dicking around and looking at cats struggling to eat ham, then absolutely. It's bad television gold.
Ask, "could breaking the fourth wall with a wink be incorporated seamlessly?"
If "yes," then go forth. If "no," then find a way to incorporate one.
Curate a killer, cheesy soundtrack
If you cannot find an argument as to why at least a tiny sample of "We Built This City On Rock 'n' Roll" could potentially and viably be on the soundtrack, then don't bother.
Always ask yourself the question, "do I want to know who hooked up whom?"
If so, then proceed.
When in doubt, go '90's
People will definitely tune in for the outfits.
When in doubt, just cast someone to play Mario Lopez
Which is why I'd like to humbly pitch Pet Star: The Real Story.