Everything the Fake Aunt Becky in Lifetime's College Admissions Scandal Movie Taught Me

Screenshot: Lifetime

On Saturday night, Lifetime premiered the first in what, I can only imagine, will be an unlimited supply of movies, TV shows, and TV movies about Operation Varsity Blues. The College Admissions Scandal follows two devoted, wealthy mothers who would do anything to stay rich and elite by ensuring their not-so-bright children make it to Ivy League schools, despite their offspring being wildly inept. It should sound familiar.

For legal reasons, all the characters’ names are made-up—with the exception of Rick Singer, the mastermind who accepted bribes from rich parents to fake their children’s way into top universities. But it’s easy to tell who each actor is “loosely” embodying. Caroline (portrayed by Penelope Ann Miller) is a soft-spoken Felicity Huffman who failed to inform her son she was cheating his way into Stanford. Bethany (Mira Kirshner) is the Lori Loughlin type, if Aunt Becky were a divorced lawyer who’s always wearing black and yelling. Like Loughlin in real life, Bethany has two daughters, Taylor and Emma, a dead ringer for Instagram influencer Olivia Jade. (Emma’s boyfriend in the movie looks like a ripped James Franco, which I must mention here because I’m certain Olivia’s beau is the only person thrilled with his portrayal.) Here’s Emma, for context:

Screenshot: Lifetime
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In an otherwise bland and bad script, Bethany drops a bunch of quotable lines with the ease of a villainous attorney. Those remarks make The College Admission Scandal worth at least a sober watch. I gleaned a lot of wisdom from this fake Aunt Becky, and I’m prepared to share that with you now.

Here’s what to say when your daughter’s guidance counselor assures you that “Yale isn’t remotely a possibility” for your dumb kid:

“Seriously? Because every year I pay my $50,000 in tuition like clockwork... I know what this is, some kind of a privilege thing. This is some twisted revenge on the one percent. If you think you’re going to deprive my daughter of the support you would give any other child, we will see how long you have your job.”

Or what to say when you’re trying to convince your daughter to cheat so she can go to Yale... while also being kind of racist:

“It’s not just the wealthy who find ways to do the best for their children. What parent of a brilliant minority child wouldn’t take every advantage they can? I’ve read about minority kids who’ve been accepted into IV league schools with SATs 200 points lower than yours. And we understand that. And we think that’s fair, because we know those communities are doing whatever they can for the children they love. They have their advantages, and we have ours.”

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When that fails, add some natural selection talk:

“You studied Darwin last year, didn’t you? It’s the natural way of the world. Some species survive, and some don’t.”

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How to respond to confrontation at your law firm when your partner confronts you about your scam:

“I take full responsibility for over-stepping in my zeal, as any mother would.”

When HR confronts you about your wrongdoing, it’s wise to retort:

“It’s my suggestion that the next person who uses the subjunctive go screw themselves.”

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How to respond to your attorney when they gently gesture that you’re full of shit:

“I’m not pleading guilty... I’m going to seek council with the balls to stand up to a lynch mob.”

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What to ask for when you’re about to lose everything:

“I’m going to call Ruth Madoff and figure out how she gets by... Do you know anyone who has her number?”

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About the author

Maria Sherman

this is my day job: senior writer at jezebel