When "A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story" originally aired on CBS in 1992 (four years before the LMN was even born), no one could have known that it was destined to become a Lifetime movie classic--perhaps even the Lifetime movie classic. Its schmaltzy treatment of serious family problems of the muderin' sort isn't only stereotypical Lifetime, it may have even helped to create the entire Lifetime movie genre. (I have no basis for this statement, of course, but I am considered an expert source on TV tropes.) Played on Lifetime and the LMN more than five gajillion times, it has become even more famous (at least, the circles I run in, ahem) than the real-life court case that preceded it.
|Dan Broderick shares a laugh|
with his attractive secretary/
future second wife
(Lunatic) + (Murder) = (Entertainment for women) has long been a formula for Lifetime movie success. If you ever watch LMN between the hours of noon and six you know that if they're showing a movie from the early 90s, there's a 60% chance it has a crazy lady in it. But the star-power in "A Woman Scorned" elevates it from the usual weekday rotation to something much more: marathon-worthy.
Betty's cheating husband (Dan), is played by Stephen Collins--and if that name doesn't ring any bells, how about the name "Reverend Eric Camden"? If you still said no, I don't believe you. Collins hugs his way through this movie even better than he did on 7th Heaven or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, although he does suffer from that awful condition--being a man--that makes him lust after his secretary and marginalize his wife.
|Betty's wardrobe is impeccable,|
even when burning her husband's
It isn't long before Dan has promoted his secretary (sorry, his "legal assistant"--when Dan's real secretary, the mom from "That 70s Show," quits because the woman Dan's screwing has only been there 6 months, has an office, and doesn't even know how to type, he helpfully informs her that she doesn't have to know how to type, because she's a legal assistant). He's also bought her a ring and moved her into the house. He won't put his love-life on hold to deal with his insane wife and three children, dammit! He has masquerade balls to attend, and the only thing that looks good with his top hat is a blonde.
|The perfect outfit for a rampage?|
A shiny green shirt, red-striped
jacket, mom jeans, and gold flats.
Well, it's all downhill from there. Betty steals the RSVP list for Dan and the blonde's upcoming wedding, and that's where they have to draw the line. They press charges, and Betty's only recourse is to show up in the middle of the night and discharge the prop gun. Even further downhill (cinematically speaking), is the two-hour follow-up movie: "Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter." Any Lifetime movie that takes place mostly in a courtroom sucks, but in the 2nd Betty movie it's especially worse because you don't get to see Meredith Baxter's crazy 90s outfits when she's in jail. There's significantly less "Golden Girls" music, and worst of all, there's not enough stuff in prison or court for Betty to destroy.
|In the first movie there's|
also an extensive collection
of 90s sunglasses
What makes "A Woman Scorned" not only the superior of the two movies, but cherished by every lover of cheesy TV films is more than just aesthetics and scenery. And it's not the Suburban through the side of the house either. (Go ahead, go watch it again. I'll wait.) Because of its cheap production values, (most) TV programming has always been a great barometer of the times--like how holding an old photograph gives you just as much sensory input as the photo itself. "A Woman Scorned" reminds us not only that swirly white type for the opening credits was very classy, but women coming to age in this generation had been talked into being wives without ever being told they might get divorced.
Early on in the movie, Betty and her friend run into a mutual acquaintance at the mall. When they find out she recently got divorced, they're fascinated and slightly, secretly scandalized, like a modern-day rich suburban lady might feel if a fellow member of the PTA announced that she had decided to start sleeping with women. As for Susan, Betty's divorced friend? She's happy, yet sad! Luckily, shopping helps.
|Stephen Collins' hairline has remained|
remarkably consistent over the years
Star Jones may remember best the scene where Betty lights Dan's clothes on fire, but my favorite will always be a short one sometime in the middle of the movie. Betty is sitting at the edge of her backyard pool in the middle of the night: dumped, alone, and wearing an impressive set of Asian-themed pajamas. She's eating potato chips, dipping each one into the pool like it's some kind of chlorine-flavored French onion dip. You can't help but feel sorry for her. But seriously...that bitch is crazy, people! Classic Lifetime.