‘The Client List’ Goes Out With a (Heh Heh) Bang

ClientlistWhen I gave what amounted to a pretty favorable review of “The Client List,” Lifetime’s Jennifer Love Hewitt massage-parlor-mom series, even those involved were kind of shocked.

To which I say: Context is everything.

Far from harboring any pretensions, the show, its producers and even its star completely embraced the series for exactly what it was — a soap/fantasy that somehow managed to position Hewitt as a larger-than-life sex object (honest; just try to ignore all those billboards) and a plucky underdog all it once.

Granted, I wasn’t the only one who reached this conclusion, and I’m frankly envious of how neatly Gawker summed up the show’s appeal with the headline, “The Jennifer Love Hewitt Handjob Hour Is The Funniest New Show On TV.”

So I decided to check out a preview of this Sunday’s season finale — in part because I’m still resisting a deep dive into fall pilots — and damned if they aren’t still plucking away at those profitable strings as niftily as ever.

Not only does Hewitt’s character have to deal with the return of her long-absent husband — who ditched her and the family in the season premiere, thus setting her up to get into the “massage plus extras” biz in the first place — but there’s a subplot involving, of all people, Betty White. And on top of that, Hewitt directed the damn thing.

Seriously, even with all that airbrushing, this show just couldn’t get any cuter if it tried.

Mostly, “The Client List” demonstrates not everything has to be “Downton Abbey” (although there’s a crossover Christmas special I’d pay to see). Premiering in April — when critics were busy with the return of “Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Killing,” not to mention HBO’s “Girls” and “Veep” — the show found its own kitschy niche.

OK, so high art it’s not. For those who like to indulge in a little tooth-rotting dreck now and again, the show’s successful season is (yes, I’m going there again) a kind of happy ending.

So there you have it, “Client List” people. Just leave your money behind the screen, please.



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