By Chloe Aiello
"Love You to Death," a movie about a real-life case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy and matricide, is just the latest example of Lifetime's recent ventures into "grittier" stories for women, Academy Award Winning actress Marcia Gay Harden told Cheddar on Tuesday.
"We are moving away from a docile type of portrayal of women and we're going deeper, we're going darker, we're going grittier, we're going into what really it is to be a woman ー and not the presentation of, or the idea of ー and I think Lifetime is right there with that," Harden said.
Harden stars in Lifetime's "Love You to Death," an upcoming made-for-television movie about a mother with Munchausen syndrome by proxy and the daughter she purposely kept sick. It's inspired by the real story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard, which ended in 2015 with Dee Dee's gruesome murder, orchestrated by daughter Gypsy Rose, who is now serving time in prison for the crime.
Harden, who is almost unrecognizable when playing the mother based on Dee Dee, named Camile in the film, said the woman's character fascinated her.
"It looks like the more she pours herself into her daughter, the bigger and more bloated she became, the crueler she was. And I just wanted to explore what that was, what this mother was," she said.
Harden, who won Oscars in 2001 and 2004 for her supporting roles in the movies "Pollock" and "Mystic River," said she wanted to lend as much humanity to the mother as she possibly could, adding that Munchausen syndrome is a mental disorder.
"For me, it was about saying, I know her behavior is monstrous, but she's a human being. And human beings are capable of the most insidious acts. And so what is human about that woman that I can make other people see?"
Lifetime has never shied away from dark subject matter in its films and television series ー but several of its latest efforts have made a serious mainstream impact. The debut of Lifetime's original docu-series "Surviving R. Kelly" ignited a national conversation about the artist (and a potential criminal investigation) fueled by the #MeToo movement. And Lifetime's dramatic series about social media stalking, "You," has exploded in popularity since it migrated to Netflix ($NFLX), which picked it up for a second season.
"I would say Lifetime is kind of ... blossoming into a new self. They've always been someone who told women's stories but they want to make sure that they use their own courage and bravery to tell the deeper and darker stories, because women have a lot of stories," Harden said.
"Love You to Death" premieres Saturday, Jan. 26 on Lifetime.