Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Hooker Show Is a Hit!

Well, of course it is. The Client List originated as a fact-based 2010 Lifetime movie starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as a down-and-out single mom forced to support her family by giving massage-parlor hand jobs. Topical, extreme, and devastatingly sexy, the movie was such a smash that it mandated a serialized version. And on Sunday night, Client List the TV show debuted to a sparkling 2.8 million viewers. According to Deadline, that makes it one of the two biggest premieres over the last five years for Lifetime (look, Drop Dead Diva is no joke), but those numbers hold up outside of the “ladies first” network; for comparison, Mad Men’s fourth season averaged 2.4 million viewers. And, again: Is this any surprise? Hewitt’s been an out-and-out television soldier for a decade at least. This is the same woman who single-handedly dragged Ghost Whisperer to five full CBS seasons. And that was a show about someone who whispered to ghosts. Are you surprised J. Love’s got what it takes to make economically necessary sex work enticing?

What makes The Client List’s early success particularly impressive, however, is the roadblocks it had to overcome. So controversial is the content of the program that a petition against its existence has sprung up. It’s been brought forth by a group called Massage Therapists Against the Client List (their logo is a Ghostbusters-style anti-Hewitt photo). They make some good points:

“The Client List” is a series that perpetuates the misconception that Massage Therapy includes inappropriate sexual contact. Massage Therapists are trained healthcare professionals and in most states are licensed and regulated by state medical boards. They adhere to a code of ethics and in some cases are under higher ethical standards than other healthcare professionals – because of these very same misconceptions … “The Client List” is a huge step backwards.

And that’s not all! Apparently nothing less than a mutiny has taken place within the marketing department at Lifetime, as a version of a sultry Client List ad had been digitally altered to make JLH’s cleavage less impressive — and without her knowledge. (See the disappointing switcheroo here.) As Hewitt explains, “I’m not quite sure what’s going on. But apparently somebody wanted me to have a boob reduction. The thing that’s even crazier is that usually when they do that stuff, I had to see the photograph before they went out anywhere, and I never saw a new version of it.” A dastardly anti-boob conspiracy is afoot! And yet The Client List fought through it, to the tune of 2.8 million viewers. Take notes, folks: This here is true grit.

Filed Under: Happy Endings, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lifetime, Television

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

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