‘The Girl He Met Online,’ funny bad
The writers of this Lifetime movie were out to create suspense
February 6, 2014
It would seem to be easy to make a TV program that’s so bad it’s good, but when the creators actually try to do it, the results can be simply bad: Take for example most of the painful made-for-TV horror movies airing on Syfy.
Lifetime’s new movie “The Girl He Met Online” promises a lot with that banal title and comes close to delivering. The writers, actors and director actually seem to have been striving to make a decent suspense drama, and their failure makes for steady amusement. The movie doesn’t quite merit a viewing party, but it could kill a slow weekend evening.
Airing this Saturday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m., the movie opens on the beautiful but unstable Gillian Casey (Yvonne Zima) just as her boyfriend, Tony (Scott Gibson), is dumping her over the phone before heading off on a business trip to Estonia. “That bastard!” she says. “I’ll teach him.”
She proceeds to trash his apartment. As she approaches a rack of neckties with a pair of scissors, she says, “Do you want to cut ties, Tony? Great. Me too.”
Revealing practical as well as verbal cleverness, Gillian leaves a wedge of brie to rot in his car.
Bouncing back, she goes on an online dating service and hooks up with Andy Collins (Shawn Roberts), a successful young businessman from an affluent family. (It’s actually unclear whether she finds him online, he finds her or they both find each other independently.)
Although she can put up a good front, Gillian has other secrets to hide besides her bipolar tendencies. She’s ashamed of the house she lives in with her adoptive mother (Mary Margaret Humes). And she’s having an affair with her smarmy boss, Dr. Harris Kohling (Gary Hudson), on whom she’s dependent financially.
Thanks to a few wild coincidences, Gillian’s lies and deception start to catch up with her. When David’s sister, Heather (Samantha Madely), spots her in a hotel with the doctor, Gillian reaches her breaking point.
Part of the pleasure in watching the movie is the way it makes sure that no subtleties slip by us. If we’re wondering why Gillian is so unstable, we flash back to her childhood, when her parents died and she was adopted. “You’ll never be my mother!” the little girl screams at her adoptive mother. “Never!”
In another flashback, we see Gillian physically assaulting a boyfriend whom she sees with another woman. And in another one, when her mother suffers a heart attack, Gillian takes her time calling 911.
Shopping for a dessert to bring to Andy’s mother’s house, Gillian imagines Andy feeding her wedding cake.
Among the other fun moments are all of Andy’s scenes with a co-worker and best bud named Benny (Jon McLaren), which sound as if they were written by an Estonian who has never had any male friends.
It’s also amusing to see the plot elements line up like dominoes. Anyone who has ever seen a Lifetime movie knows that if you’re conversing with someone who’s agitated, you should move away from the top of the staircase.
Unfortunately, “The Girl He Met Online” fails to live up the standards of violence or over-the-top kookiness set by previous girlfriend-from-hell movies. No rabbits are harmed.
We’re led to expect a big confrontation between Andy and Gillian, preferably with a kitchen knife, but it never happens. The body count is disappointingly small.
For most of the movie, it’s unclear whether Yvonne Zima is giving us a convincing portrayal of the flat affect of a sociopath or whether she simply can’t act. But she steps up her game in some emotional scenes toward the end.
Andy seems like a nice guy when we first see him, and our impression of him never deepens, so it’s hard to care whether he lives or dies.
Lifetime has already aired “The Boy She Met Online” (2010), “The Wife He Met Online” (2012) and “The Husband She Met Online” (2013). “The Girl He Met Online” seems to be the last possible permutation of the franchise. Comedy’s loss is drama’s gain.
Coming soon, a new way to measure online TV
Five smart tips on buying billboards
Fact: Mobile ads now top banner ads
‘Yikes, that is one spooky psychic!’
‘Project Runway: Threads,’ threadbare
Tell us, what’s your take on Martha Stewart?
A most unlikely World Series matchup
Cable overnights: ‘Dead’ stays strong in week two
Mom to toy store: Stop selling Walt White doll!
Fox orders a horror series from Ryan Murphy
CBS Outdoor is dropping the CBS name
‘Sunday Night Football’ scores for NBC
Washington Post rolls out national tab
- Abbey Klaassen becomes director of corporate development at Dentsu
- Robert Kellner becomes SVP of strategy at Barker
- Anhelo Reyes becomes VP of brand marketing at Spike TV
- ABC News SVP of communications Jeffrey Schneider exits
- Carlos Lamadrid becomes VP of national sales at Entercom
- Claudine Cazian rises to VP of programming at Premiere Networks
- Michael Foster becomes VP of demand platform at MediaAlpha
- Susan Sarandon joins Lifetime's 'Marilyn'
- Pitbull hosting ABC's American Music Awards
This week’s top movies, songs and books
This week’s daypart ratings
This week’s broadcast ratings
This week’s cable ratings
This month’s new media traffic data
This week’s younger viewer ratings
Assistant media planner/buyer wanted in Austin
Digital media buyer/planner job in Norcross, Georgia
Associate media planner wanted in Chicago
Media buyer job in Medford, Oregon
Media planner position in Chicago