I just found out I’m getting Lifetime Movie Network free this month. How could I missed it? How could’ve I missed the Lifetime Movie Network? It plays twenty-four hours a day and shows Tiffany Amber Thiessen getting murdered, Tori Spelling getting killed or sleeping with danger, and Kellie Martin is anorexic or her mother is being put in an institution, take your pick. However, it makes me miss the old school TV movies, the TV movies that showed girls in trouble.
The Girls in Trouble movies were big in the 70’s and 80’s. They stayed popular in the 90’s, with the Moment of Truth series on NBC and other TV movies on Lifetime, but I think the best ones were in the 70’s and 80’s. Here’s some things you need to know about the Girls In Trouble movies:
They have Big Problems. Capital B, capital P. They usually are too ashamed or too much in denial to admit their problems.
They usually have clueless parents. The parents have no idea how to deal with their daughter. Usually you will hear “She used to be such a good girl! She didn’t cause us a bit of trouble! We don’t know what happened with her!” They are well meaning, but clueless.
There will be people that will try to help them. Be it a priest, a doctor, a therapist, a well-meaning friend, someone will try to reach out to them to get them help.
Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better-It has to get worse and worse until the light bulb comes up right above their head and they realize they do need help.
Things do get better-they get help. They learn they aren’t alone, and 99% percent of the time, there’s a glimmer of hope that they are going to be okay.
They have great hair. If things aren’t going well, their hair looks awful.
Make sense? Good! Let’s count down some of the best Girl In Trouble movies.
Go Ask Alice I wrote about the book Go Ask Alice a couple of months ago. It was made into a TV movie starring unknown Jamie Smith Jackson as Alice the diarist. Jamie Smith Jackson would soon set the standard of teen girls in TV movies; pretty, insecure, and pretty darn vulnerable. Smith-Jackson was all of this as Alice. She’s in almost every frame of this movie and she shines as a girl who, after a LSD trip, suddenly gets into all sorts of drugs. William Shatner and Julie Addams plays her parents, and watch for cameos by Andy Griffith as a sympathetic priest, Ruth Roman as a doctor, and Charles Martin Smith, Robert Carradine and Mackenzie Phillips as crazy drug users. There’s a bad cover of the title song that you will not get out of your head, along with Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” playing over and over when Alice has LSD trips. Her hair is great in the beginning, stringy in the middle, good at the end.
I Want To Keep My Baby! Mariel Hemingway is Sue Ann Cunningham, fifteen and pregnant. This was Hemingway’s debut. Her boyfriend Chuck wants nothing to do with her or the baby. Yet she is determined to make a life for herself and her baby, no matter what. Susan Anspach plays her trashy movie obsessed mother Donna Jo, the actor who played Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird is her friend Andy, and Rhea Perlman plays a supportive social worker. If anyone knows how to get this movie, let me know, because I would love to see it again. I read the novelization of the film repeatedly when I was twelve. Hemingway’s hair is great throughout the movie.
Sarah T: Portrait of A Teenage Alcoholic If you wanted an actress that displayed teenage girls in the mid seventies, nobody did it better than Linda Blair. Famous because of her role as Regan in The Exorcist, this time she plays Sarah who s tired of her uptight mom and boring stepdad. What she wants to do is live with her free spirit artist dad played by Larry Hagman. His dream is to live in Oregon, and she’s going to go with him, by gosh! It doesn’t help much that Major Nelson drinks beer from a brown paper bag with his daughter. Way to set up an example for your daughter, J.R! Mark Hamill plays her boyfriend and Michael Lerner plays her doctor. Blair portrays Sarah with a whininess that Phil Gramm would not approve of, but you do root for her to take it one day at a time. With her hair, Blair definitely has the parted long deal going that looks great on her.
Dawn: Portrait of a Teen Prostitute Eve Plumb found a role the opposite of Jan Brady: She was Dawn, who ran away to Los Angeles to become a star! Of course she finds herself as a prostitute, walking the Hollywood streets, looking for johns. It takes Leigh McCloskey as Alexander,male prositute, to show her that the streets aren’t for her. Plumb’s hair is at her shiniest blondest here.
Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker- Ah, remember hitchhiking? When all you needed to get around was a good thumb and a trust in your fellow man? Yeah, I really don’t remember it either. However, Charlene Tilton has a good thumb and sure, people warn her about taking rides, but she can take care of herself. Or can she? Tilton has her curly golden locks here and looks good even when fighting off a potential rapist.
The Best Little Girl In the World Jennifer Jason-Leigh is Kasey and all she wants to do is lose some weight and be a dancer. Clueless parents neglect her in order to yell at her older pregnant sister. Soon Kasey is failing her classes, gets bony and bites her dad’s finger when he tries to feed her. Jason-Leigh(who with a doctor’s supervision got down to 90 pounds to play the role) plays Kasey with such fragility that when she confronts her family at the end of the film you can’t help but cheer for her. Charles During is clueless dad and Eva Marie Saint is the controlling mom. Helen Hunt and Ally Sheedy play friends of Kasey’s as well. Overlap alert! Jason Miller plays Kasey’s doctor (he was the priest in The Exorcist) and Lisa Pelkan is Kasey’s sister who was also in I Want To Keep My Baby as a stereotypical welfare teen mom. I was shocked to learn that Jason-Leigh wasn’t nominated for her role; it’s such a raw, vulnerable performance. Plus even at her thinnest, her hair looks great!
Something About Amelia This was the big movie when I was a kid. It was the first movie to deal with incest or sexual abuse. I know, hard to believe. Roxanna Zal, played Amelia, a nervous girl who admits to her school counselor Jane Kacezmarek that for two years her dad and she have been having sexual relations after fearing the same thing will happen to her little sister. Soon Amelia is taken out of the house and the family falls apart. Glenn Close portrays the angry sad mother who wonders why her husband would prefer their daughter rather than her, Roxanna Zal won an Emmy for her role as sad Amelia, but it is Ted Danson who scores as the abusive dad. It was such a risky move for Danson to take the role (he just hit it big as Sam in Cheers) He does wonders as the father who loses everything, cries when he watches Shirley Temple dance in Baby Take A Bow, and then tries to make amends to his daughter, if possible.
There are probably other Girls in Trouble movies, but I’m blanking on them. To be honest, sometimes it can be burning out to see all these girls have everything happen to them and you need to remember that hey, not all teen girls are anorexic hooker hitchhikers who use drugs or get pregnant. However, I do remember how Go Ask Alice made sure I never would take drugs. The night Amelia was televised, many girls called the 1-800 number at the end of the movie to report abuse. Girls in trouble were everywhere back in the day, but they either helped other girls not get in trouble, or at least marvel at their really great hair.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries