Lifetime TV’s Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer movie faces controversy amid broadcast

Lifetime TV airs Chris Watts film, featuring Sean Kleier as murderer.
Lifetime TV airs Chris Watts film, featuring Sean Kleier as murderer. Pic credit: © Pictures

Lifetime TV airs Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer tonight. But the broadcast comes amid controversy over whether the film blames Chris’ murdered wife Shanann rather than Watts himself.

Following the movie, a documentary special on what the network calls the Watts Family Tragedy will air.

It’s the “Me Too” era, where women are finding their voices. But as the Chris Watts film shows, the increasing support for women in all industries hasn’t changed the fact that life (as shown on Lifetime TV) contains some nasty realities.

Chris Watts murder movie and documentary earn Los Angeles Times recognition

So should you tune into this Lifetime TV special? The Los Angeles Times seems to think so, including both the movie and the documentary in its list of “what’s on TV Saturday, January 25.”

The film follows the story of what happened when Chris Watts’ pregnant wife Shanann and two daughters supposedly could not be found. The year was 2018, the location Colorado.

With Ashley Williams portraying the wife and Sean Kleier playing Watts, the Confessions of a Killer film shows Chris seeming to sob as he pleads with TV viewers to help him get his wife and kids back safely.

However, in comes an investigator, played by Brooke Smith, to figure out what really happened. The film airs at both 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST on Lifetime, with Beyond the Headlines: The Watts Family Tragedy documentary scheduled for 10 p.m. EST.

This isn’t the first attempt at a documentary, with a previous ID TV special airing about the situation.

Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer asks whether pregnant wife is to blame for own death

Although other true crime shows have tracked what happened, Lifetime TV takes a different approach. And that’s caused controversy, pointed out Westword.

The film follows the chronology of what happened when Chris Watts killed his wife Shanann, who was pregnant at the time, along with murdering their daughters Bella and Celeste. Lifetime TV producers also carefully chronicle how he chose to go public to seek help.

But the controversy crops up in the emphasis on what motivated Watts to murder all three family members.

Shanann had been known to sell weight-loss products, including both pills and patches. The movie shows that Chris’ alleged negative reaction to those products was at least in part to blame for his deadly actions.

Some contend that the film, therefore, seems to point not just at Watts but his wife for the cause. If she had been a saleswoman for, let’s say, diapers rather than diet products, would Shanann as well as her daughters be alive today?

Behind the scenes, Barbara Marshall (author of the script for the Lifetime remake of The Bad Seed) wrote the script while Michael Nankin directed.

Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer airs Saturday, January 25 at 8/7c on Lifetime. 

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