Lifetime debuted a new series Wednesday night (Oct. 17) called “My Life is a Lifetime Movie,” which profiles the real-life women who have lived through some event that is so off-the-wall, so unbelievable and so sensational that it easily could be a Lifetime movie.
The premiere episode is primarily about Jodi Barrus, a then-33-year-old teacher in a small Iowa town who was falsely accused of having sex with a male student, James Daily, back in 2010.
What doesn’t really work about the show is that it tries to split the tone between serious and tongue-in-cheek, since so many of its movies are fairly ridiculous, like “My Stepson, My Lover” or “She Woke Up Pregnant.”
But these stories are real. So it’s weird to watch these melodramatic re-enactments with a police officer making his best “stern” face or a tall, willowy model-esque girl looking upset juxtaposed with watching Jodi Barrus break down in tears talking about what people were saying about her, just assuming she was guilty.
Plus, this woman’s life was basically ruined, at least in Belmond, Iowa. It’s actually kind of chilling to hear about smalltown rumors and how quickly accusations like this fly out of control. It’s particularly frightening to hear a juror from the trial say that she thought Barrus was guilty right away because “she’s pretty — that’s usually what you see with teachers having sex with students.”
The Barrus segment at least ends with the show setting the record straight. Barrus was found not guilty; prosecutors found dozens of inconsistencies with Daily’s story. Barrus also talks about how Daily still lives in town and that they’ve caught him parked outside their house, which — that’s rather alarming.
The network really missed out on something here, maybe. A more straightforward documentary about these crazy-but-true stories that treats them with the gravitas they deserve and not cheesy re-enactments would have worked a lot better, we think.
What do you think, viewers?