Trusting a stranger to take care of your kids is a big emotional hurdle for even the most time-strapped parent, which is probably why nannies are so often depicted as villains in Lifetime movies. The trope of the "evil nanny" usually involves a femme fatale trying to sleep with the husband or replace the mom. The dynamic changes when the caregiver is a man, as in the case of Lifetime's original movie, Manny Dearest (formerly titled A Stranger With My Kids, according to IMDB). But do these fears about letting a relative stranger take care of your kids have any sort of basis in reality? Is Manny Dearest based on a true story?
Luckily for any worried parents out there, the description on Lifetime’s website is sparse and makes no mention of any true-life inspiration for this movie. Although, it does have just enough sordid details to get the imagination juices flowing:
"Single mom Karen hires Alex, a 'manny' (male nanny) to help with her two young sons, never suspecting Alex has other plans and wants her family as his own, even if he has to murder to achieve his goal."
Alex is played by Mitch Ryan from One Tree Hill, and Ashley Scott from UnREAL stars as Karen. Ironically, this is not Scott's first foray into the world of badly behaving nannies — she also starred in The Nightmare Nanny, a 2013 Lifetime movie about a mother who suspects her au pair is trying to abduct her daughter. Spoiler alert: she totally is.
You may not want to see children in danger, which is understandable. The good news is that if Alex wants Karen’s family for himself, as the description of Manny Dearest reads, odds are that his plan is to go after her rather than her sons. After all, that’s what the villain in The Nightmare Nanny does — it’s a pretty tried-and-true formula for Lifetime at this point.
However, there is one thing that’s true about the movie: the term “manny” is definitely a weirdly gendered word people actually use. It first hit the public consciousness in a big way during a 2002 episode of Friends, where Ross and Rachel consider hiring a male nanny for their daughter, Emma. Not long after, “mannies” became popular among celebrities like Britney Spears and Gwyneth Paltrow. Now, several male-specific nanny agencies, like MyManny and Manny & Me, market their services to busy parents.
The title of the Lifetime movie also has another tenuous real-life connection: it’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to Mommie Dearest, the 1981 campy biopic based on Christina Crawford’s memoir about living with her mother, classic film star Joan Crawford, who she alleges mistreated her. (The memoir was published after the actor's death. Crawford's other daughter Cathy has denied that her mother had been abusive.)
See if this family can survive a malicious stranger when Manny Dearest premieres on Lifetime on April 29.