In reality TV terms, “Preachers’ Daughters” hits the trifecta — possessing an obvious movie precedent (“Footloose,” anyone?), while targeting teenagers and their parents with tantalizing questions surrounding the consequences of strict parenting, and whether it backfires by prompting kids to rebel. Finally, the show’s three families exhibit regional and cultural diversity — espousing religious values, sprinkled with a touch of hot sauce. Even if you’re skeptical about the carefully massaged drama, it’s hard not to admire a single show so meticulously accessorized with that many commercial points of entry.
The three daughters — one age 16, the others 18 — reside in North Carolina, Illinois and a small town in California. The youngest, Southern-belle-in-training Kolby, is just about to begin dating, but has to deal not just with her wrestler-turned-preacher dad (kudos to the casting folks on that one) but her minister mother, who teaches a sex-education class to teenage girls. Mom Victoria’s blunt references to all kinds of sex — including of the penetration and “backdoor” variety — even earn the show a parental advisory.
Over in Illinois, Taylor is also more than a little boy crazy, and chafing against her parents’ rules so much she cites a vague desire to become a porn star. This seems as much designed to provoke and shock as anything else, but it still inspires dad to pray on her behalf.
Finally, there’s California-girl Olivia, a sort of preview of coming attractions/warning of Christmases to come for parents everywhere. Having experimented with drugs and sex, she already has a baby, and in the premiere must confess to her parents and older sisters (oncamera, naturally) that her screwing around went further than they realized.
In a sense, the show wants to have its cake and exploit it — featuring Bible passages coming out of act breaks, yet having Kolby engage in a giggling conversation about oral sex with her older sister. There’s also a rather deliciously uncomfortable exchange where Victoria graphically grills a boy about the prospect of dating her daughter.
Premiering the same week “The Client List” returns (and a few days after the TV movie “Restless Virgins”), “Preachers’ Daughters” represents a clear strategy on Lifetime’s part to be more salacious, recognizing all the fun TLC and Bravo appear to be having.
For a channel once viewed as your mom’s network , and one determined to make its profile younger, that’s understandable. And if pressed, execs can always use the alibi that the Devil — or really, the demos — made them do it.
(Series; Lifetime, Tues. March 12, 10 p.m.)
Produced by Thinkfactory Media. Executive producers, Adam Reed, Adam Freeman, Emily Sinclair, Leslie Greif; supervising producers, Nikki Calabrese, Karin Jarlstedt, Kelly Rausch; supervising story producers, Tarin Laughlin, Antonia Mattia; lead editor, Kyle Martin; music supervisor, Greg Cahn. 60 MIN.