Sorority Surrogate Features Lifetime’s New Favorite Character Type, The Evil Grandma

Lifetime movie Sorority Surrogate March 2014

I need to start this post by revealing that I spent most of the two hours it took to watch the new Lifetime movie Sorority Surrogate giggling to myself. Of course, I had started giggling as soon as I read the plot description. I don’t know what it was about this production that really tickled my funny bone, but I’m not complaining. It’s the first “so bad it’s good” movie the network has aired in ages. It came across like a bunch of robot aliens traveled to earth, watched a few Lifetime movies, and tried their best to make their own. And I loved every second of it, especially the parts with Evil Grandma, Lifetime’s new favorite (and with good reason) character type.

We start the movie in a sorority house where a chapter president with a nails-on-a-chalkboard voice is doing her best impression of the Deranged Sorority Girl (good times) and screaming at new pledges for being irresponsible. Our heroine Valerie (Cassie Steele) shows up, and the prez uses her as an example of what Omega Zeta Delta is all about — studying. What a perfect time for Valerie to receive a notice that her financial aid is being discontinued because her drunk father listed her as a dependent and blah blah blah tax stuff I don’t understand that might not even be correct. How do I know her father’s a drunk? Because she goes to visit him in his hovel and he shows the top signs of being a drunk — sleeping on a mattress on the floor, holding a bottle of booze, and mistaking her for her dead mother.

What extreme measures will Valerie go to in order to pay for school? Since this movie has “surrogate” in the title you’d assume that’s the answer, but you never know. Is it prostitution? Bank robbery? A part-time job at Banana Republic? Oh, it’s surrogacy? Okay, let’s move on then. Valerie hears about the opportunity from her intense law student friend Su (Elena Juatco), who brags about how in demand her eggs were when she sold them. Turns out surrogacy can earn you even more, and the dollar signs that appear where Valerie’s eyes used to be signify that she likes the sound of that.

The couple she ends up carrying for are Jameson and Sara. They’re very rich, as evidenced by Sara’s penchant for cardigans and headbands and also Jameson’s mother’s Emily Gilmore-esque mansion. That mother is Maureen Darlington (Mimi Kuzyk), a rich bitch and former congresswoman with a younger husband named Charlie (Chris Bruno) who’s always lurking in the corner with a glass of scotch. How do I know his name is Charlie? Because Maureen says it every five seconds, and she pronounces it in the most annoying way imaginable. Okay, so I think Claire on Lost might have her beat (Chaaahlie!!!), but Maureen’s a close second.

Maureen isn’t very fond of Sara because she can’t produce an heir and this is apparently 16th century England. She’s not happy when Jameson cuts her out of his life, and Charrrlie translates this as: “Get your former PI partner to kill Sara by somehow using an iPad to take control of her car and crash it.” Charrrlie is excellent at following orders he made up himself, so he gets Walter (Matthew Bennett) to do his bidding. But whoops, there’s a change of plans and Jameson gets in the car too. So now both of the baby’s parents are dead. Charrrlie is not pleased that Walter screwed up, and he lets him know by announcing the fact that he killed someone in the middle of a public park and then grabbing him menacingly by the collar and refusing to pay him the full amount. Walter really wants his money for that cool iPad car crash trick, and he’ll be back for it.

Lifetime movie Sorority Surrogate March 2014 2

Maureen’s really bummed that her son is gone, but the silver lining is that soon she’ll have a new grandchild to control and manipulate. Except whoops, the baby’s not supposed to go to her. It’s actually supposed to go to Sara’s sister and her husband. And surprise! They can’t have babies either, so they’re super excited about this opportunity. After deciding not to have an abortion because this baby will somehow carry on the life that its parents didn’t get to live blah blah blah sponsored by the Duggars, Valerie agrees to carry it for the next of kin. The only way Maureen can have the baby is if they prove the sister and her husband are unfit guardians. Don’t worry, Charrrlie’s there to take that to mean “frame them for a crime.” So he plants drugs in the husband’s car and has him arrested.

So Valerie begrudgingly agrees to give the baby to Maureen. So begins the full Evil Grandma stage. Maureen visits Valerie’s sorority house and finds it totally unsuitable for the baby. She gets in the best line of the movie, however, when the chapter president sucks up to her by announcing in her wannabe Elle Woods way, “I’m the chapter president,” and Maureen replies, “Of course you are.” #DEAD. Maureen calls in a tip about the house having bed bugs, which gives her a great excuse to force Valerie to move in with her. Her iron fist progresses from forcing Valerie to eat salads for every meal to handcuffing her to a bed in an unfinished room. Whoa there, Lifetime. You already have your Flowers in the Attic sequel in the works. Slow down.

Valerie’s boyfriend Kyle becomes suspicious when she doesn’t answer her phone. Kyle is played by Daniel Kelly. If you’re a Degrassi fan, reading that probably made you pass out or something, because he starred on the show with Cassie Steele. I never watched that show, but I am excited by the fact that this guy is a walking, talking face mash-up of Logan Lerman and Zac Efron. But back to the plot. Kyle and Su team up with Valerie’s ex-convict brother to find her, because young people in Lifetime movies are always looking to reenact Scooby Doo.

Meanwhile, Charrrlie has taken Valerie to a cabin in the woods, Lifetime villains’ favorite vacation spot. Valerie immediately demands to use the bathroom, and Charrrlie agrees like a dumbass. Have you never seen a movie, Charrrlie? Needless to say she ends up spraying him in the eyes with air freshener (putting that in my Lifetime lessons file) and escapes to a creepy shed. Charrrlie chases after her with a gun, but surprise! Walter’s there, and he wants his money or else he’s gonna kill him. They have a fight over the gun and Walter ends up shot dead with Valerie as a witness. What a perfect time for Maureen to show up and say Charrrlie’s name a few more times.

Charrrlie confesses to killing Maureen’s son and also her husband, which is a new development. Maureen is not pleased with this news, so she shoots him dead and then almost shoots Valerie too. But Valerie does that thing Lifetime movie heroines are super good at and talks her out of it by mentioning the baby and fresh starts and new beginnings and sunshine and rainbows and happiness. Maureen drops the gun, and just then Valerie’s friends arrive. So they ended up being totally useless.

Valerie ends up having the baby and giving it to the sister and her husband, and they all laugh about the fact that the kid looks like Maureen, who is now in prison, according to a casual comment one of them throws out. Oh yeah and Valerie’s drunk father shows up for no reason at the end and I guess he’s gonna be okay now? Eh, he was only there as a plot device so I guess the writers didn’t really know what to do with him after that. The parents ask Valerie to be the baby’s godmother. They also name the baby Valerie, and it’s like eeek why are you so obsessed with her? And then the movie ended, and so did my laughter. Until next week.

(Images: Lifetime)

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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    • elle

      I’m pretty sure thus movie had the worst acting of any lifetime movie I’ve ever seen. It was terrible, I almost gave up when they found the drugs in the glove box. But I persevered. I was also super mesmerized by Kyle’s eyebrows. How do they look like that? And I genuinely hope nobody uses “I heart(insertname)” as their password. And yes, someone claiming you as a dependent on taxes does fuck with your FAFSA.

      • Jill O’Rourke

        The acting was so terrible I couldn’t believe it was real. But I totally ate it up.

    • Cbalducc

      When you are a coed in Lifetimeland, you lose your financial aid.
      When you lose your financial aid, you need lots of money fast.
      When you need lots of money fast, you become a surrogate mother.
      When you become a surrogate mother, the parents-to-be are murdered in an only-in-Lifetimeland method.
      When the parents-to-be are murdered in an only-in-Lifetimeland method, you are imprisoned by a crazy Canadian grandmother-to-be.
      DON’T become imprisoned by a crazy Canadian grandmother-to-be.
      Go to welding school instead!

      FYI, Mimi Kuzyk is a Lifetime “repeat offender”, having played the domineering mother and company matriarch in “The Husband She Met Online”.

      • Jill O’Rourke

        Ahh I knew I’d seen her before but I didn’t put it together.

      • Cbalducc

        Mimi Kuzyk – the favorite hammy Canadian broad of the moment!

    • Trevor

      Maureen is probably the worst Lifetime movie villain EVER! She acts like it’s the 1970′s, mainly from the way she talks. Plus, she has the personality of a sponge. Anyone else agree with me?

      • Jill O’Rourke

        She was so cheesy. I loved it. “Charrrrrlie.”

    • Lackadaisical

      Why on earth didn’t I think of being pregnant as an easy way to finance my time at university? OK, I would have to have gone to an American university as it is illegal to profit from surrogacy where I live but these are mere details. What an easy way to fund studies without interfering with them because pregnant students are famed for how easy they find it to combine studies with pregnancy. I can not imagine mums who got pregnant at school or university shaking their fists with rage at lifetime at all.

      I suspect that Valerie’s Scooby gang will be annoyed when she gets pregnant again to pay for next year’s fees and accommodation, and all new hijinks occur. Perhaps next time they will have to nearly rescue her from the bitter wife driven mad by her inability to be the one to squeeze her husband’s baby out, or perhaps the wife could be nice but get murdered by the father who obsesses with Valerie and tries to manipulate then force her to take the dead wife’s place. If Valerie has a long time left at uni or decides to go for a postgraduate qualification then lifetime could always make both.

      • Jill O’Rourke

        Oh I’m sure she’ll carry a baby per year, and every time will lead to DRAMA.

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    • The Original Writer

      As one of the writers of this movie, I thank you for the
      kind words. “Revenge” was my inspiration, so being compared to V.C. Andrews is way
      too flattering! Also, funny story: Charlie’s original name was “Baron” but they
      changed on the set at the last minute.

      • Jill O’Rourke

        You can’t go wrong with an evil grandma!

        (And Barrron would have been a great name too. Anything with an R.)