Reese Witherspoon Nancy Allen Alex Murdaugh film show performer stars audience country man Reese Witherspoon Nancy Allen Alex Murdaugh

Lifetime Hits Massive Milestone— and Has No Plans to Slow Down

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Emily Longeretta Nearly four decades ago, Lifetime Channel launched as a woman-centered network airing mostly talk shows and syndicated series.

Four years later, the whole cable network changed, premiering its first TV movie, “Memories of a Murder.” The 1990 movie, starring Nancy Allen, set the tone for what was to come, with a plot about a stepmother who gets amnesia and can’t remember why a psychopath is trying to kill her family.

That sort of story worked for the network in the ratings; while Lifetime dabbled in other types of films — Reese Witherspoon’s “Wildflower” came the following year — they realized what their audience wanted. “Lifetime’s most successful movies all have stories and characters that people, namely women, can connect to and root for,” says exec VP and head of programming Elaine Frontain Bryant. “People want to see themselves reflected on screen — so even if it’s an outlandish tale, there’s something in there that feels personal.” Fast-forward to 2023 and Lifetime has garnered 63 Emmy nominations, eight Golden Globe nominations and 20 Critics Choice nods.

This year, Lifetime aired its 500th movie — one of their “Ripped From the Headlines” genre, “Murdaugh Murders: The Movie.” It came at the perfect time, on the heels of Netflix’s two-season docuseries on Alex Murdaugh, a man accused and convicted of murdering his son and wife.

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