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TV Review: ‘Client List’: Now There’s the Rub

Shortly after “The Client List” premiered last April, I received an email from a massage therapist who was very upset about the message the show conveyed, including the assumption that legitimate masseuses or therapists were in the “extras” business.

Sorry, ma’am, but if the show is complicating your professional life, it’s going to be another long couple of months for you.

Because “The Client List” comes roaring back for season two, cleverly cloaking its soap-opera elements in more high-heeled naughtiness, and so unabashedly cheesy as to remain a likely hit for Lifetime. (In the covering-all-bases dept., while the channel airs the season premiere March 10, sister network History will be airing the second installment of “The Bible.”)

Part of the reason “Client List” works is star/producer Jennifer Love Hewitt has embraced the concept (which actually originated as a TV movie) as a showcase for her assets, yielding a billboard campaign that’s hard to distinguish from the equally ubiquitous outdoor push in L.A. for the upcoming adult-entertainment convention AdultCon. Yet the underlying plot about a mom who will do anything to support her family actually has a rather wholesome foundation — and virtually mirrors ABC’s new drama “Red Widow,” except “Client List” is done with a sense of fun and flair, while “Red Widow” (which airs directly opposite) goes into a slightly different old profession.

It gives nothing away to say Love Hewitt’s character continues to juggle her two disparate worlds, grappling with the aftermath of her husband  (Brian Hallisay) walking out on her — and abruptly returning in last season’s cliffhanger. Meanwhile, she’s taking on a larger role at work, a.k.a. the Rub, threatening to open a whole new can of worms. (There’s almost nothing you can write about this show that doesn’t sound like a double entendre, is there?)

Beyond the show itself, “The Client List” seems to have informed Lifetime’s direction in a broader sense, from the TV movie “Restless Virgins” to the upcoming reality show “Preachers’ Daughters” — all connected by a touch of trashiness, at least in title or concept, as well as a skew toward a slightly younger female audience.

Granted, it’s not the most elevated approach to programming, but it appears to be working. And to borrow and paraphrase a very old joke, now that we’ve established what you’re doing, we’re just haggling about the price.

The Client List

(Series; Lifetime, Sun. March 10, 10 p.m.)

Cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Loretta Devine, Colin Egglesfield, Rebecca Field, Alicia Lagano, Brian Hallisay, Laura-Leigh, Cybill Shepherd.

Produced by Fedora Films and Jaffe/Braunstein in association with Sony Pictures Television. Executive producers, Ed Decter, John J. Strauss, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Allan Arkush, Howard Braunstein, Dannielle Thomas, Micahel Reisz. 60 MIN.

TV Review: 'Client List': Now There's the Rub

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