When it comes to quality entertainment, made-for-TV movies are usually not at the top of anyone’s list. They’re predictable, they’re cheesy, and they’re usually straight up cringe-worthy – but that’s what makes them so good! When you need a movie to watch to take your mind off of things and decompress, TV movies are the way to go.
Network giants like Lifetime and Hallmark are notorious for creating the best, most over-the-top TV movies about love, loss, and everything in between – but they aren’t the only ones that create some of the cheesiest movies (let’s not forget that classic Disney Channel movies fall in the same category, too!). From finding love on an airplane to finding out your boyfriend is secretly a prince, there’s no denying that we don’t have some hope that these movie storylines could happen to us in real life as well. No matter how hard these movies make you cringe, they’ll make you smile, too. Here are 16 made for TV movies that are so cringey, they’re good!
16. High School Musical (Disney Channel)
This movie is arguably the most important movie to every millennial ever. Disney Channel’s classic flick High School Musical delivered laughs, tears, and a look into the coolest high school ever. This movie premiered in 2006 and gave viewers into a glimpse of East High School, a place where students constantly break into song like it’s no big deal (goals, right?). School heartthrob and basketball star Troy (Zac Efron) meets academic scholar Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) during a karaoke duo at a New Year’s Eve party before she moves and ends up at the same school! What are the chances? Of course, queen bee Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) can’t let Gabriella steal her dream man and her starring role in the spring musical, so the battle for Troy and school power unfolds. Cheesy? No doubt. But this classic movie (and its stellar soundtrack) is still beloved by fans today.
15. My Perfect Romance (Hallmark)
Dating in the modern age is hard – from dating apps to dry DM conversations, finding true love can seem next to impossible. But Vivian Blair has it all figured out – she’s a program developer who’s created the perfect dating algorithm called “My Perfect Romance.” She shares her breakthrough technology with Wes Robinson, a newly appointed CEO of a tech company who just so happens to desperately need a new idea to boost its sales. It wouldn’t be a true Hallmark movie if the two didn’t have to try the algorithm themselves… and you can probably guess what happens next! And as an added treat, Full House’s Jodie Sweetin stars in this adorable, cheesy 2018 TV movie. Petition to bring My Perfect Romance to real phones ASAP!
14. Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance (Lifetime)
Unless you live under a rock, you’ll know that former American actress and activist Meghan Markle has lived out every girl’s dream by marrying Britain’s most eligible bachelor: Prince Harry! These two have a perfect fairytale romance, so it’s no surprise that Lifetime jumped on the chance to bring it to life in a TV movie. The movie aired just days before the couple’s wedding on May 19, 2018, and reenacted everything from the couple’s first blind date, their romantic trip to Botswana (if you consider sleeping among giraffes and being stalked by lions romantic), and that romantic proposal that happened while they were roasting a chicken. Swoon!
Viewers were quick to take to Twitter to slam the movie’s cringe-worthy acting and how Lifetime suddenly made Prince William and Kate Middleton look like the bad guys (how could they?!), but when it comes down to it, Harry and Meghan share an epic love story, and seeing it on screen gives us all hope that we, too, can find our royal soulmate one day.
13. Once Upon a Prince (Hallmark)
Keeping with the royal theme, Once Upon a Prince is a 2018 Hallmark Movie about Susanna, an average small town American girl who accepts help from a dashing stranger named Nate at her parent’s garden store in Georgia. The two develop feelings for each other, because, how could they not?! All is going well until a photo of the two is leaked to the press and Nate must go home to his mother… because he has to be coronated as the King of Cambria! To add extra drama to the story, Nate’s mother doesn’t approve of their relationship because Susanna is a mere commoner, and she believes she is not suited to become married to a future king. Who will win – true love or an angry mother? You can probably guess the outcome.
12. Eat, Play, Love (Hallmark)
If you loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s best selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love (and the movie adaptation starring Julia Roberts), you need to see this 2017 Hallmark movie. It follows Dr. Carly Monroe, a veterinarian who always stops by the local dog shelter to play with all the cute pups (hence the title’s play on words). But she doesn’t just love the dogs – she’s secretly in love with Dan, the owner of the shelter. But alas, their love is doomed because Dan has to leave their small town because he plans to marry his girlfriend, a gorgeous TV personality, and move to New York City. But luckily for Carly, Dan’s sister sees that Dan and Carly are truly meant to be, so she takes matters into her own hands to stop the wedding. Would Elizabeth Gilbert approve? It’s hard to tell – but if anything, just watch this movie for all the adorable dogs.
11. Love at the Shore (Hallmark)
What’s better than two people falling in love? Two people falling in love at the beach. Hallmark’s 2017 flick Love at the Shore is all about Jenna, a fabulous single mom who’s a successful teen novel author. As she and her kids prepare for their annual family beach vacation, her publisher slams her with a short deadline for her next book. So, upon their arrival, Jenna gets to work… but she finds herself struggling because of their new neighbor, Lucas. Though he’s devilishly attractive, the carefree surfer lets his dog run loose, blasts his music all night long, and plays volleyball at the most inconvenient hours. Jenna hates him, of course, until she sees how well he bonds with her kids. And after they get dinner together one night, Jenna’s feelings start to change. Shore-ly a surprising plot twist, right?!
10. Augusta, Gone (Lifetime)
If cheesy romance films aren’t your thing, Lifetime’s movie Augusta, Gone may be for you. The 2006 TV movie is based on Martha Tod Dudman’s memoir of the same name. It follows Martha, a single mom who struggles with her teenage daughter Augusta. Her anger and hate prove to be more than just typical teen angst. Augusta turns to drugs, smoking, and ends up on the streets. Unsure of how to get her daughter back, Martha sends Augusta to a strict wilderness camp for troubled kids to try and help her find herself again – but even the camp counselors struggle to break through to Augusta. Will anything be enough to change Augusta and bring her back to her family? It’s a touching story of family struggles – and just how powerful love can be. It’s touching, but also mad cheesy.
9. Abducted: A Father’s Love (Lifetime)
Abducted: A Father’s Love is a 1996 Canadian TV movie starring Chris Noth – aka Mr. Big from Sex and the City. But in this thriller, he’s far from the dashing businessman that Carrie Bradshaw fell for. He plays Larry, a father who abducts his own child from his estranged wife after he suspects she’s being an abusive and negligent mother. As he’s being pursued by a federal agent, he finds himself as the first man to be helped by an underground mother’s movement, a coalition of mother’s who help him protect his daughter from her mother. While it’s definitely not as easy to watch as Carrie and Big sipping on cosmos, it’s pretty thrilling to watch if you can stand the over-the-top cheesiness.
8. Liz & Dick (Lifetime)
Liz & Dick wasn’t popular among the critics, but hopeless romantics will love to see the real-life love story of Elizabeth Taylor (played by Lindsay Lohan) and Richard Burton (played by Grant Bowler) played out on screen. Their tumultuous relationship began when the two actors met on the set of Cleopatra. They began a scandalous love affair, and it wasn’t long before the media got word of their attraction for each other despite being married to other people at the time. Their relationship was one of the most publicized, and paparazzi stopped at nothing to get pictures of the two and their worldwide adventures. They ~fought hard and loved harder~, and they were ultimately married and divorced twice. Audiences love a forbidden romance, and that’s why so many have been captivated by Liz & Dick’s love story.
7. The Color of Rain (Hallmark)
What has Gretchen Weiners been up to since her days as a plastic? She’s starring in Hallmark movies! Lacey Chabert stars as Gina in The Color of Rain, which premiered in 2014. In a devastating tragedy, Gina’s husband Matt dies of cancer on Christmas Day, leaving her widowed with two sons. In an effort to stay close to her kids and to cope with her grief, Gina starts volunteering at their elementary school. She meets three siblings who unexpectedly lose their mom, Cathy, to cancer just weeks after Matt dies. Cathy’s death leaves her husband, Michael, struggling to care for three kids in the wake of her death. Understanding Michael’s struggles, Gina offers to help, the two families blossom into an unlikely but beautiful friendship. While this movie is most definitely a tear-jerker – and some of the acting is subpar at best – it offers an uplifting story of how faith and friendship can start to heal unthinkable wounds.
6. Wedding Planner Mystery (Hallmark)
Hallmark doesn’t just stick to heartfelt romances – the 2014 flick Wedding Planner Mystery adds a dash of mystery and suspense to their usual sappy stories. Carnegie Kincaid is a wildly successful wedding planner, so she’s the perfect choice for a high profile family’s upcoming wedding. But when a murder occurs and the bride goes missing, Carnegie finds herself as the primary suspect. She’s pursued by police and a particularly shady news reporter, and she starts to believe that she’s been framed for the murder by someone trying to get rid of her. As she continues to be questioned by a tough detective, she falls for a handsome lawyer involved in the case. Surrounded by attractive men and an intense investigation, Carnegie learns that love isn’t always pretty or easy… especially when you’re framed for murder. Who would’ve thought!
5. A Wish Come True (Hallmark)
Turning 30 is rough, and on the night of her dreaded 30th birthday, Lindsay Corwin wishes that all of her birthday wishes she’s ever made come true in this 2015 Hallmark TV movie. By some lucky stroke of magic, it starts to happen, and over 30 years of wishes start to come true. Not only does the passionate environmentalist lose weight and finally meet her perfect man (after years of failed relationships), her life finally pans out the way she’s always wished it would. Sounds perfect, right? Wrong! It doesn’t take long for Lindsay to realize that everything she’s wished for may not actually be her “perfect” life and that maybe her “Mr. Right” has been by her side all along.
4. A Novel Romance (Hallmark)
Ever wonder what it would be like to date Nicholas Sparks, otherwise known as the ultimate romance novelist? That’s what Hallmark’s 2015 romance A Novel Romance is all about. Liam is a popular romance novelist who has three wildly successful books out under the pen name Gabriel August. He wrote his first novel as a way to cope after a breakup but suddenly finds it hard to keep writing about love. Meanwhile, Sophie is a journalist who reviews books and just slammed Gabriel August’s latest release.
When Sophie and Liam meet by chance on a plane, they hit it off immediately and start their low-key romance, and Sophie (unbeknownst to her) becomes the inspiration for Liam’s latest book. Meanwhile, Liam’s publisher puts him under pressure to release his true identity and put Gabriel August to rest – but of course, he can’t do that, because Sophie doesn’t know it’s really him! While it’s nowhere near as good as The Notebook, A Novel Romance is still pretty uplifting (and gives us all hope that our next airplane seat partner will be our soulmate).
3. A Royal Christmas (Hallmark)
Hallmark is known for their holiday movies that are released every year, and A Royal Christmas is arguably one of their best. Lacey Chabert stars (again) as Emily, the daughter of a Philadelphia-based tailor who is dedicated to her family business. She has a ridiculously handsome boyfriend, Leo, who she met at school as he was studying abroad. As Lacey plans their first Christmas together, Leo drops a bombshell: he has to go back home for Christmas because he’s actually the heir to the throne of Cordinia, a small European country. Emily comes with, but quickly finds that she doesn’t exactly fit in with Leo’s royal family, and his mother, Queen Isadora, is far from happy that Leo is in love with a commoner. (Classic made-for-TV queen, right?!) She schemes with Leo’s ex-girlfriend, Duchess Natasha, to break them up in hopes that Leo will fall back in love with her. Meanwhile, Emily continues to question whether she will ever fit in with the Royals. But with a little Christmas magic (and help from an endearing butler), Emily finds that love is love, whether she’s royal or not.
2. Perfect on Paper (Hallmark)
In another Hallmark movie, Perfect on Paper follows Natalie, a book editor from Portland who always chooses the wrong men. After yet another failed relationship, she makes the decision to pick up her life and move to Los Angeles for a fresh start – but she quickly feels like she doesn’t belong in glitzy LA. She gets hired to edit a romance novel from Beverly Wilcox, a glamorous (and seriously intimidating) novelist who’s the complete opposite of Natalie. The scandalous novel goes against all of Natalie’s morals, but she finds it hard to say “No” to Beverly. Meanwhile, she falls for two men: an attractive surfer and a charming, successful lawyer. As she struggles between her men and her work, Natalie learns the problems that come by judging a book by its cover – and that her perfect man may not be the one that looks perfect on paper. Swoon!
1. Dater’s Handbook (Hallmark)
Starring Meghan Markle (yes, that Meghan Markle), Dater’s Handbook aired on the Hallmark Channel in 2016. It follows Cassandra Barber, an unlucky woman who always chooses the wrong guys to date. Her friend encourages her to turn to “The Dater’s Handbook,” a guide written by a relationship expert to help readers stop making such bad decisions when it comes to men. The guide prompts her to follow a specific checklist, and Cassandra ultimately finds herself with two potential suitors. George (Jonathan Scarfe) is literally perfect by the book: he’s reliable and predictable – a safe option. But Robert (Kristoffer Polaha) is exciting, fun-loving and unpredictable. Who will Cassandra choose? Will she follow the expert or her heart? Who knows!