I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a real bummer, to say the least. So as we look forward to a better and brighter future in 2017, you might be searching for some inspirational TV programming to start your year off right. If that's the case, I suggest you stay far away from Lifetime's newest movie, Mommy, I Didn't Do It, which premieres on Sunday, January 1 at 8 p.m. ET — unless, of course, you want to spend the first day of 2017 indulging in a delicious courtroom drama. If that's the case, then you should probably tune into this flick, and if you do, I'd be surprised if you didn't ponder whether or not Mommy, I Didn't Do It is a true story.
What's clear about Mommy, I Didn't Do It is that it's a sequel to the 2013 Lifetime movie The Wrong Woman. In that film, Ellen Plainview (Danica McKellar) was put on trial for a murder she said she didn't commit and was eventually acquitted of. The Wrong Woman was a "fresh take" on Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 film The Wrong Man, according to the Lifetime movie's description on the network's website. The Wrong Man purports to tell the true story of Christopher Emanuel Balestero, who was wrongfully accused of two armed robberies in 1953 and later had his indictment against him dismissed. Hitchcock was said to have been inspired by Balestero's story after reading about it in a LIFE magazine article published in 1953, according to TCM.com.
Mommy, I Didn't Do It picks up where The Wrong Woman left off. Ellen is now a lawyer after finishing law school and has been busy taking care of her 17-year-old daughter Julie (Paige Searcy). However, things don't stay peaceful forever, and Julie becomes the one charged with the murder this time after being accused of killing her teacher who she was rumored to be having an affair with. Ellen decides to defend Julie in court, but during the trial, she continually discovers evidence that makes it seem like her daughter is guilty. Ellen becomes determined to find out the truth, even if it may not have such a great outcome for Julie.
The synopsis for Mommy, I Didn't Do It doesn't mention anything about the film being based on a true story. Since movies that have some basis in fact tend to make note of that sort of thing in their summaries, I'm inclined to think that Mommy, I Didn't Do It is not based on a true story and is just a thrilling drama perfect to watch after a night of ringing in the new year.
Of course, wrongful indictments and convictions do happen in real life. The subject has particularly been in the cultural consciousness in the past few years thanks to the popularity of Season 1 of the podcast Serial and the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, both of which revisit real-life murder convictions that have been disputed.
Many movies depict wrongful arrests and convictions that have really happened, such as The Hurricane, Conviction, and In the Name of the Father. Errol Morris' 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line has famously been widely credited in helping to overturn the wrongful murder conviction of Randall Adams.
Someone getting blamed for a crime he or she didn't commit is inherently dramatic, so it's no surprise that it has been a popular subject in movies over the years, too. Don't confuse Lifetime's The Wrong Woman with the 1995 TV movie of the same name starring Nancy McKeon, best known for playing Jo on The Facts of Life. In that film, the actress' character is wrongly accused of killing her boss. Thrillers like The Fugitive, Double Jeopardy, and Shooter also dramatize what happens when someone is wrongfully accused of murder.
But I have a feeling that Mommy, I Didn't Do It is going to take what can be a very somber real-life tragedy and up the camp factor of it. Do you really want to watch anything that deep on New Year's Day, anyway?