Based on the play “An American Daughter” by Wendy Wasserstein, the film stars Christine Lahti as Lyssa Dent Hughes, a privileged, well-educated daughter of a well-known Republican senator and fifth-generation granddaughter of Ulysses S. Grant. She is the wife of a professor, a mother, a prominent health expert, and the president’s nominee for surgeon general. But when a seemingly inconsequential detail about her life is revealed to a reporter, the snowball effects of media scrutiny threaten both her career and personal life. “An American Daughter” raises themes about the compromises and disappointments of “baby boom idealism” and the challenges of feminism in modern times.
Let me ask the ladies a question? Does it seem to you that the Lifetime Network (Television for Women) often surpasses uplifting feminine rights, preferring to feature a militant anti-male thrust in many of its made-for-TV movies? Time after time, I review films from that cable network that feature men in a negative light. They are either abusers or weaklings that women must carry on their professional shoulders.
“An American Daughter” falls into that latter category. The female lead, a liberal activist who’s pro-abortion, anti-gun, and with a subtle disdain for born-again believers, must undergo a media investigation, while her cheating man (Tom Skerritt) wimps around in the background. A careless remark about Hughes ignoring a summons to serve jury duty, creates a maelstrom of controversy that threatens to destroy her chances for her new appointment. Just before that bombshell, she walks into the living room to discover her husband kissing a younger woman. When’s the last time you saw a positive man/woman relationship on that network?
The film deals well with the media’s piranha-like coverage and Lahti gives an intelligent performance, but though Mr. Skerritt is a talented actor, he has played this same milksop role time and again. Tom, it’s time to watch a John Wayne movie! As for women’s rights, no one addressed the subject more eloquently in movies than Katherine Hepburn, yet you always believed she liked the opposite sex. If that attitude came across a little more on Lifetime, we guys might just watch those movies with you. Due to one misuse of Christ’s name, we are unable to recommend it for family viewing.