Monday, April 9, 2012

Pilot Review: The Client List

The Client List (Sundays at 10:00 on Lifetime)

I love a good, trashy, campy, guilty pleasure. It's why I will always watch Showgirls when it's on TV, no matter what; if it's the last 10 minutes, I'll still watch. So something like The Client List is right up my alley.

Jennifer Love Hewitt stars as Riley, a mom who is trying to make ends meet with her husband on disability and their next mortgage payment due. She goes in search of a job as a masseuse and eventually finds one in Sugarland, Texas, about an hour away from her home in Beaumont (that's right... as if the show wasn't campy enough, it's set in a town with the same name as the danceless one from Footloose). Riley soon learns, however, that the only way to make any real money at this spa, named The Rub, is to offer "extras." When she returns home to find her husband gone, Riley gives in and gets dirty.

It's the kind of story that could really only be told on Lifetime, or maybe Cinemax After Dark. Only Lifetime could take the tale of a young, newly single mother of two who literally turns into a whore over night... and make it sweet. Yeah, I said it: sweet. Riley is the latest hooker with a heart of gold, though it's probably easy for her when you see the type of man candy lying on her table. These are the kinds of men Greek gods aspired to be, yet here they are in small-town Texas paying for a young woman to get them off. It's totally exaggerated, but it somehow works when Riley turns the sex sessions into therapy sessions. By the pilot's end, she's saved a client's marriage; not by stroking him physically, but emotionally. There's a particularly ridiculous scene where the client's wife follows Riley home and they have a tear-stained heart-to-heart about listening to our spouses and the importance of telling them often how much they are loved. It's sentimental and over-the-top, but I can't help loving it.

I don't actually fully comprehend why I enjoyed The Client List so much. I have to give the credit to Jennifer Love Hewitt, who portrays Riley with a wink to the camera. She gets how stupid this kind of story is, and she treats it almost as satire, as if she's playing a parody of a whore. It's bizarre but totally enjoyable. At least she's trying something, which is more than can be said of the vacuous supporting cast. No one really does anything of import or interest, least of all Riley's brother-in-law (and, let's be real, potential new love interest) played by Colin Egglesfield. No, the men are here to be eye candy and the women are here to backup Love. There are also some clever nods to the show's own campiness, including an appearance by Mimi Rogers (who famously posed nude in Playboy in the 1990s) as the aforementioned scorned wife, as well as some truly giggle-worthy puns ("I have a feeling the tips are going to be big.").

Overall, The Client List is frothy and light, a time waster, a show without delusions of grandeur. That last bit alone is reason enough to root for it; The Client List and its star know exactly what kind of show they're making, and they make no qualms about giving you what they've promised: silly dialogue set against a backdrop of hot dudes and ladies in lingerie.


  1. I'm a female and ALL the hot dudes should be a plus... but because of them i find it to be 'only' a romp of fake comedic campiness. I SOO HATE IT!!

    1. I can see what you're saying. And I have to admit that even though I had fun watching this episode, I never watched another one.