Though Christina Ricci may play a dark character in The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, I welcome the return of one of my favorite childhood actresses with open arms. The series is a continuation of the Lifetime film Lizzie Borden Took An Ax, so when does The Lizzie Borden Chronicles take place? The Lifetime series is premiering on Sunday, April 5 at 10 p.m., but where does the story begin?
The Lizzie Borden Chronicles starts in 1893, four months after Lizzie was acquitted of the murder her father and stepmother. (Lizzie's parents were killed on Aug. 4, 1892, as shown in Lizzie Borden Took An Ax.) In real life, Borden never left her hometown of Fall River, Mass. (even after the scandalous nature of her trial), so the series — like the film — also takes place in Fall River during the late nineteenth century.
Lizzie and her older sister Emma (portrayed by Clea DuVall in the Lifetime movie and series) both lived until June 1927 when, according to History Channel, they died within days of each other (weird, right?). Although the original Lifetime film showed Emma leaving their home with packed bags after Lizzie whispered to her sister that she killed their parents, Emma is in The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. The film had presumably jumped to 1905, when in real life Emma left the house the sisters shared and stopped speaking to Lizzie, though History Channel says the rift was due to "Lizzie's relationship with actress Nance O’Neill, which Emma allegedly disapproved of," not a whispered confession.
Since Lizzie Borden Took An Ax ended with the words, "Emma Borden left Fall River. The sisters never saw each other again" appearing onscreen, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles will go back to show us what happened after the murders and before Emma left.
Although the series may take place in the prim and proper late nineteenth century, the series uses modern music as an anachronism, just like Lizzie Borden Took An Ax did. The Lizzie Borden Chronicles will also have Lizzie looking pretty guilty for other murders, which Ricci confirmed to TVLine is a "fictionalized version of what happens after the trial." (According to History Channel, Borden was accused of shoplifting in 1897, but not of any other murders. Still, I wonder if the new miniseries will let her use that pear-eating alibi again.)
The Lizzie Borden trial happened over 120 years ago, but the public still can't get enough of it. As recently as March 2012, the case was still being looked into when Borden's lawyer's journals were left to the Fall River Historical Society. Like the trailer for the new series says, "100 years from now, someone will mention the name Lizzie Borden, and do you know what will instantly come to mind?" Before it was an old-timey accused and acquitted ax murderer — now, thanks to Lifetime, it will be Christina Ricci.
Images: Michael Tompkins, Chris Reardon/Lifetime; circe154/Tumblr