LOS ANGELES—The new made-for-television movie A Just Killing—the inspiring true story of a man who finds his own inner strength by murdering his needy, overbearing wife—premiered on Lifetime for Men this past Saturday, earning the network its highest ever ratings.
The highly anticipated movie event is another boon for the cable channel, which specializes in uplifting programming geared toward 30- to 60-year-old men. The film chronicles the painful ordeal of Gary Mulkeen, a fun-loving mechanic who meets a seemingly perfect woman, but must soon fight for his very life after she reveals herself to be a clingy, manipulative shrew.
"It's about one man's perseverance against impossible odds," said director Tom Dunlop, whose previous credits include the Lifetime for Men original films Suffocated Independence and Not With My Hard-Earned Money You Won't. "Hopefully Gary's struggle will inspire other men out there to empower themselves and stand up to frigid women who attempt to micromanage every last minute of their lives."
Early word from viewers has been overwhelmingly positive. Many particularly praised the chilling scene in which Mulkeen, played by actor Steven Weber, is viciously browbeaten by his wife into admitting he has been having an affair.
"I found Gary Mulkeen's harrowing true-life experience to be incredibly moving," viewer Richard Downey said. "Here's a guy who journeyed deep into the heart of marital exasperation and came out the other side a stronger, newly single person. Finally, a movie that tells his side of the story."
Audiences have also responded enthusiastically to the film's suspenseful climax, in which Mulkeen narrowly escapes his wife's nagging clutches by throttling her to death in order to save himself from going out to yet another French restaurant.
"I was touched by the moment when Gary realized he could murder his controlling wife, get away with it, and go on to lead a normal, happy life on his own," Lifetime for Men devotee Gary Zander said. "A life free of shrill accusations and neediness, where he might one day enjoy multiple exciting lovers at once and choose to spend all of his income on classic muscle cars."
"Plus, it worked out that he got all the life insurance money, which was awesome," Zander added.
Lifetime for Men debuted the original television movie as part of its spring schedule. Other programs in the new lineup include the weekly drama series A Life Unburdened, starring Treat Williams as a man who enjoys a series of meaningless sexual encounters and then dies rich and happy, and the hit Catching Up, in which two old college friends get together to drink cheap beer and eat sandwiches for 60 minutes.
"At Lifetime for Men, we strive to create programming that reflects the unique problems and issues confronting today's man," said Lifetime for Men president and CEO Fred Rasmussen. "We like to think of it as sort of an entertainment roundtable, wherein we can finally address some of the frustrations that have been holding men back and keeping them from realizing their desire to do absolutely anything they want."
Rasmussen reported that production has already begun on a sequel to A Just Killing, which follows Mulkeen as he summons the courage to leave his dead wife's demanding sister after she becomes overly attached following their fifth night of sex together.