Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret debuts tonight on Lifetime at 8 p.m. Eastern.
There’s nothing significant about the Jodi Arias case: A woman, theoretically spurned by her boyfriend—though she claimed abuse—viciously murdered him and was caught. Massive amounts of evidence pointed to her, and she eventually—after making up a whole bunch of stories—admitted to the crime. Open and shut. Except of course it wasn’t that simple: The Arias trial made headlines because of its salaciousness. Both she and her victim, Travis Alexander, were young and sexy, and by all accounts involved in a turbulent relationship that included lots of breakups and lots of sex (and sexy photos). Sex, sex, sex, then a brutal murder. Catnip!
But really the only interesting thing about the whole scenario was how brazenly stupid and bold Arias was, and how genuinely strange. After she was arrested, she at some point asked for make-up before her mug shot, and cameras in an interrogation room caught her doing yoga poses, seemingly without a care in the world. She changed her look and her story on camera, and this apparently ignited the furor of millions with nothing better to examine—especially Nancy Grace, who’s made a career out of pointless outrage. HLN even launched an entire show dedicated to the case, HLN After Dark: The Jodi Arias Trial, and its ratings skyrocketed. The show will continue to cover other cases, and claims to be concerned with the most important court of all—“the court of public opinion.” (Seriously, those are their words.)
But this is nothing new, of course: The world loves watching real-life killers on trial, from Jeffrey Dahmer to the Menendez Brothers to Casey Anthony. And Lifetime, naturally, likes making those stories into badly acted, badly directed, unfocused, uninformative TV movies. It’s what they do. And I’ll admit that I’m drawn to these types of movies because I’m curious just how bad they’re going to be: Occasionally they cross over into the sublimely ridiculous, into comic relief for situations that shouldn’t by any rights have any.
Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret is not that. It’s blunt, ugly, shallow, and—maybe worst of all—pretty boring. Again, if there’s anything interesting about this case it’s what made Arias tick, what was going on in her kooky brain that made her think she might get away with murder. Her trial offered at least some insight—she was on the stand for an incredible 18 days of testimony—but this movie just brushes over the court case in the last ten minutes, offering only the most minor details.
Which leaves 80 minutes of a budding relationship, and plenty of time for sex. Alexander was Mormon, so there’s a bit of that internal conflict. But mostly it’s “Let’s fuck,” “You’re smothering me,” “Let’s fuck some more (but in a thoroughly TV-friendly way).” Tania Raymonde—a.k.a. Ben Linus’ adopted daughter Alex on Lost—pouts and twirls but never gets mean on-camera until it’s time to viciously murder her boyfriend. She doesn’t even get the opportunity to pull some Glenn Close moves; it’s all just implied until she explodes in a pornographic fit of violence, stabbing Alexander (played with milquetoast douchiness by Jesse Lee Soffer of The Mob Doctor) 27 times and then shooting him in the head. This all takes place after an interminable build-up that offers nothing beyond the idea that she’s obsessed with him.
Should I have expected more? No, I most certainly shouldn’t have. Why would I have when all of the ingredients for this TV movie are so foul? The components might be here for a 10-minute news story about a troubled sociopath who snapped without remorse, but there’s nothing to warrant a 90-minute movie other than the basest desires of a cable-net audience. We probably should have ignored this one, and you definitely should.