The Client List



Mature sex work series sends confusing messages.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Riley's career choice as a sex worker is central to the show. The storyline highlights some of the reasons why women turn to jobs that are taboo or illegal, making these choices seem more justifiable. Her sympathetic portrayal also sends a confusing message about the realities of sex work.

Positive role models

Despite her occupation, Riley is a doting mother and daughter. She is portrayed sympathetically, but with an emphasis on her sexuality. Some of the massage staff only give standard massages, but earn less as a result.


Jealous wives occasionally threaten the masseuses.


Lots of near-sexual content, including many scenes of men and women with extremely low necklines, undressing, standing in revealing underwear, etc., but no nudity onscreen. Men are rubbed both clinically and suggestively on the massage table, but are not shown being touched in private/sexual places.


Words like "damn," "ass," and "whore" are audible.


GMC SUVs, Mercedes-Benz sedans, and other car logos visible. Contains references to Tivo.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Beer, wine, and cocktail drinking is visible; some cast members are shown acting drunk or hung over. Characters occasionally pop prescription pills, like Xanax. Addiction is a theme in the show.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series, which is based on a popular TV movie of the same name, features a single mother working in the sensual massage trade to support her family. Not surprisingly, it boasts lots of sexual innuendo and scantily dressed folks (but no nudity), as well as conversations about mature themes like infidelity, drug addiction, etc. Expect some salty language ("ass," "whore") and drinking (wine, beer, cocktails), prescription drug use, and drunken behavior is visible.

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What's the story?

Based on the popular Lifetime TV movie of the same name, THE CLIENT LIST stars Jennifer Love Hewitt as Riley Parks, a financially-strapped massage therapist who must find a way to support her children after being abandoned by her husband. When former colleague Selena (Alicia Lagano) sends her to Georgia Cummings' (Loretta Devine) massage parlor for a job, she discovers that she can make significant tips as a masseuse offering "extra" services to men who appear on the establishment's special client list. But keeping the details of her job a secret from her conservative mom Linette (played by Cybill Sheperd) and friends like Lacey (Rebecca Field) is hard. Adding to her stress is her brother-in-law Evan, who seems to be taking an extra interest in her. As Riley wrestles with her moral misgivings about what she does, she also looks for constructive ways to help her clients with their personal problems.

Is it any good?


The series mixes drama and quirky humor to generate sympathy for Riley, whose job as a sensual massage worker is initially dictated by necessity rather than mere greed. Her constant wrestling with her conscience, as well as her desire to legitimately help others while she is working, makes her both likable and relatable. It also makes her actions easier to forgive, despite the fact that they are not necessarily legal or socially acceptable.

Not surprisingly, the series contains lots of sexual innuendo, as well as conversations about extramarital problems, addiction, and other mature themes. Drinking and some rowdy alcohol-induced behavior is also visible. The subject matter will satisfy folks' need for some guilty viewing pleasure, but it's the kind of entertainment that is best for adults.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the choices Riley makes to help her family. Do the ends justify the means? Why do you think this series represents her as a sympathetic character rather than a criminal breaking the law?

  • Do you think the messages about the sex trade presented here are appropriate for younger viewers? Parents: how can we talk to our kids about this and other sex-related media content?

TV details

Cast:Cybill Shepherd, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Loretta Devine
Network:Lifetime Television
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

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  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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