Lifetime continues to bring the enormously popular sagas of author V.C. Andrews to the small screen with all the dedication to detail and hokiness they deserve. The network first treated us to an extensive adaptation of the story started by Flowers in the Attic and followed that up with a lush treatment of Heaven Casteel’s warped family.
Now, we enter into the world of Ruby Landry with a four-movie event taking place over consecutive weekends starting Saturday, March 20 with Ruby, followed by Pearl in the Mist on Sunday, March 21. All That Glitters airs Saturday, March 27 with the finale, Hidden Jewel, concluding on Sunday, March 28. All movies air at 8pm ET.
Ruby is just your average teen living in the bayou of Louisiana with her spiritual healer Grandmere Catherine (Naomi Judd) and hawking her paintings outside their cabin with other crafts and wares until she finds out her biological father lives in a mansion in New Orleans with her twin sister. When Grandmere Catherine unexpectedly dies and Grandpere Jack tries to sell her hand in marriage, Ruby (Raechelle Banno) escapes to the city to track down her newly discovered family.
Burdened by the secrets of her past and confronted with the harsh truths of her present, Ruby finds it difficult to live with her spoiled, devious twin (Karina Banno), which forces her to seek the counsel of a voodoo priestess. Once you place a curse on a blood relative all bets are off.
Without revealing too many spoilers, here’s five reasons Lifetime’s take on the Landry series is the perfect pandemic binge:
1. The Fashions
It’s hard to recognize the decade Ruby resides in—at first. The hairstyles seem like remnants from the ‘40s yet also have a Gwen Stefani vibe. The saddle shoes the girls wear at their boarding school scream ‘50s, yet their plaid skirt uniform bears a striking resemblance to the current dress code at the all-girls Catholic high school I attended. The colorful cigarette capris, pointy flats and sweet sweaters could easily appear within the pages of a J. Crew catalogue. No matter the time period (which is eventually revealed as 1962), once Ruby heads to New Orleans to embark on a new life with her long-lost father and twin sister, the dress code jumps from frumpy to delicious.
2. The Villains
Ruby’s wicked twin sister. Her violent, alcoholic Grandpere Jack. Her bitter stepmother. The hawkish headmistress of the Greenwood School for Girls, Mrs. Ironwood. The Landry series never seems to run out of vile characters dead set on tormenting our heroine and the only comfort we can glean is how easy this miniseries makes it to spot them. There’s no ambiguity in their hateful natures and the viewer can bask in the safety of immediately knowing who not to trust.
3. The Taboo Topics
If you’ve never sat in your kitchen at 3 a.m. crying over the revelation that a heroine's true love is actually her uncle (here’s looking at you Casteel Family), then you’ve never read a V.C. Andrews novel. The Landry series wastes no time following suit, with with the first minor incestuous encounter occuring around the 8-minute mark when Ruby’s bayou boyfriend kisses her...after she reveals they share the same biological mother. A tawdry plot point for sure, but one of the author’s hallmarks that inexplicably keeps us coming back for more.
4. The Drama
Selling babies. Secret parentage. Teenage pregnancy. Voodoo curses. The ol’ twins swapping identities game. Catatonic children. One outrageous event follows another during this four-part saga. Often soap operas get a bad rap for bringing people back from the dead or arcs involving demonic possession, but those plot points take years to develop. Who has time for that kind of payoff? Roll your eyes if you must at the breadth of eccentric catastrophes befalling this bunch, but the action is succinct and never commits the cardinal sin of being boring.
5. The Escapism
No one disputes that 2020 was a very hard year and while hope is on the horizon, 2021 has also been emotionally and financially draining. We’re all looking for a little something to take our minds off the realities of the pandemic, and thanks to Lifetime, you can completely remove yourself from the current climate and enter into a fanciful, albeit cliched, version of 1960's Louisiana.
Ruby, Pearl in the Mist, All That Glitters, and Hidden Jewel air on Lifetime at 8 pm ET on March 20, 21, 27 and 28, respectively.