Review – The Client List
The Client List – Lifetime – 10:00/9:00pm Sunday – USA
Lifetime’s new primetime soap opera The Client List is one of the strangest shows I’ve ever reviewed, not because it has a particularly bizarre premise but because the show skirts around the premise with no character flatly talking about what’s really going on. The Client List KNOWS what it’s about but it does everything that it can to avoid the topic as if it’s embarrassed to be seen in the same room as the plot it devised for itself. The Client List stars Jennifer Love Hewitt as Riley Parks, a newly single mother who needs to earn some extra cash to help raise her family and pay for her mortgage, she gets a job at a massage parlour and takes up the offer to give some ‘extras’ to some ‘members’ on the special client list. Seeing as though The Client List doesn’t want to broach the topic I’ll just come out and say it: this is a show about a woman who earns money giving handjobs.
The Client List is so strange because it never wants to talk about the filthy things that happen on the show. At times it’s like you’re watching an hour long double entendre – the parlour Riley works at is called The Rub, in her first interview her new boss (Loretta Divine) says “It’s tough to get a job and it’s tough to hold onto it”, when Riley meets one of her co-workers she shakes her hand and says “that’s quite a grip!” to which her co-worker says “that’s why I make the big bucks”, her clients always tell her that they have some soreness in their groin that needs a good rub to make better, there is a lot of talk about ‘extras’ and Riley says ‘that’s not what I call a happy ending’ but that’s as close as the show comes to talking about what the show is about.
This is one of the chastest series you could find on television – 2 Broke Girls is more comfortable talking about masturbation than this show, WHICH IS ABOUT MASTURBATION, is with the topic. The Client List is the cleanest show you could make about erotic massage. Nothing dirty happens on screen – there are a lot of towels that are slowly pulled back before the scene fades to black. The most explicit the show gets is when some ice is rubbed across a chiselled torso, and there are a lot of chiselled torsos. All of the men who frequent this massage parlour looking for ‘extras’ are ridiculously attractive. The montage that leads Riley to make the decision to pull for the big bucks involves her giving normal massages to a group of gross clients because in The Client List’s world people who get regular massages are gross but people who come in looking to be finished off are underwear models with rock hard abs.
Riley being the aww shucks Southern woman that she is occasionally treats her clients to something extra special – she gives them marriage advice. Riley is like the Ghost Whisperer if you replace the ghosts with unhappy husbands and the whispering with handjobs and insight. The Client List is a trashy romance novel in television form, and there’s nothing wrong with that because why should the ladies miss out on some escapist fantasy. Despite being one of the most ridiculous shows to come along in a long while (seriously, imagine trying to sell this idea to your friends and co-workers – “Jennifer Love Hewitt is in it and she gives massages… TO SAVE HER FAMILY) The Client List is strangely compelling. There are a lot of bad shows on television but there is no bad TV show quite like this one.
Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?