I stayed in last night and watched a rerun of a Lifetime movie from November 24, 2017 called "Framed by My Fiancé" - a name which reinforces my feeling that Lifetime is running out of inspiration and having a harder time finding sorts of relationships that can turn ugly and generate their typical plot lines. Directed by Fred Olen Ray (a name I've encountered on previous Lifetime productions) from a script by Stephen Lyons based on an "original" story (quotes definitely merited!) by Suju Abraham and David DeCrane (most of these people are old Lifetime hands but the production company is credited as "DeInstitutionalized," one word with a capital letter in the middle à la a computer program, which suggests what had happened to the writers just before they came up with this script), "Framed by My Fiancé" begins with a sequence that promises, if not a great movie, at least a better-than-usual one. Attorney Daniel Hackett (Jason-Shane Scott) is about to be appointed to a state judgeship in a move that could clear his way to run for governor of New York (this is set in Buffalo, which makes me wish Charles had been there with me, if only to clue me in on how much Buffalo has changed since he spent a good chunk of his childhood there) but is warned by Harold Barnes (Gerald Webb, an African-American but one of Barack Obama's color and bald, so you really have to look hard to realize he's Black) that the appointment would be canceled if he got involved in a scandal.
Then he goes out for a nighttime drive with his live-in girlfriend, nurse Jenny Fisher (Katrina Bowden, top-billed), and the two are involved in an accident when Daniel, who's driving, gets distracted and slams into a black SUV that had stalled on the road, killing one of the people inside, a politically well-connected contractor named Joseph Langford. We'd also been given a scene establishing that Joseph and his wife May (Valynn Turkovich) are expecting their first child - and May had a miscarriage the year before (like so many other Lifetime women before her!) and is scared that she won't be able to carry this baby to full term either. (One wonders if the writing committee intended the names "Joseph" and "May" to evoke comparison with the Biblical Joseph and Mary, who according to Christian myth had big-time help from The Man Upstairs in having their baby.) May's pregnancy survives the accident but not by much, and after she loses this child too she swears revenge against Jenny for having killed not only her husband but her last chance to be a mother. Jenny finds herself in a Kafka-esque situation in which her boss fires her from her nursing job and her best friend, Rosa Harris (Kara Buckley), is threatened with eviction herself for having taken Jenny in following her moving out of Daniel's place following the accident. While she was still unconscious, Daniel had concocted a plot to blame her for the accident, moving her from the passenger's to the driver's seat and planting her fingerprints on the steering wheel so he could say that she had been driving and therefore he wasn't to blame for the fatal crash. When she comes to, Daniel is hovering over her, pleading to go along with his "one little lie" and back up his story that she was driving, saying that she'll probably get just a slap on the wrist since she has no criminal record and she's "clean" as far as the legal system goes. (The phrase "one little lie" appears so often in the dialogue I wondered if "One Little Lie" had been the working title of the film - and indeed it would have been a better name for it than "Framed by My Fiancé" - but the imdb.com page on it lists no other title.)
Instead she finds herself arrested for manslaughter by police detective Logan (Alan Pietruazewski, a rather nondescript milquetoast-looking actor of the "type" Lifetime usually casts as the long-suffering husband) and facing a 20-year prison term because of the political connections of the victim, his wife and Daniel. "Framed by My Fiancé" is yet another Lifetime movie that could have been quite good if the writers had only known when to stop - had they focused on Jenny's Kafka-esque inability to get out of the situation Daniel had pulled all the political strings available to him to get her into, with the implied class critique that some victims are more "equal" than others and you can get into a lot more trouble for killing a 1-percenter than someone farther down the economic food chain, they could have had a fine, entertaining and moving film. Instead the plot takes several melodramatic turns and the film becomes a virtual encyclopedia of almost everything that can go wrong with a Lifetime movie, including the villain showing a combination of almost supernatural power and willful stupidity. Though this isn't by far the worst film I've seen on Lifetime either, it is a rather disappointing one given that it had the potential to be considerably better than it is.