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Primal Screen

Jennifer Love Hewitt offers happy endings in 'The Client List'

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. They deliver every monotone line with an impassive expression, as if that were the way to make this kitsch seem important.

Did the filmmakers really think that rendering the characters as inhuman would be the way to our hearts?

The Client List (9pm Sun, Lifetime)

Riley (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a wholesome mom from Beaumont, can’t find a job to support her kids. She finally gets work at a massage parlor, where she expects to draw on her background in reflexology. But during her first session with a client, she’s shocked to find that he expects an “extra.” The kindhearted madam can’t believe Riley didn’t know what she was getting into. Neither can we.

In real life, a trained massage therapist might flee such a scenario. The Client List, though, is anything but real. Thinking only of her kids, Riley strips to a lacy bra and panties and sets to work with a bottle of massage oil in one hand and an ice cube in the other. And damned if she doesn’t retain her wholesomeness, no matter how raunchy the massages get. After a career of combining the sweet and the sexy, Hewitt knows just how to salvage the material with her irresistible Party of Five smile.

Like Riley’s clients, I suspect, viewers are apt to leave the real world behind for a weekly visit to this massage parlor.

Savage U (10pm Tue, MTV)

In his new series, sex advice columnist Dan Savage visits college campuses to answer questions about masturbation, oral sex, penis size, and virginity. To be honest, though, there aren’t a whole lot of questions about virginity. Today’s students appear to be doing each other 24/7, to the point where you wonder if anyone’s paying attention in structural engineering class. If buildings start falling down over the next decade, we’ll know why.

Savage calls himself “a big jerk,” but you wouldn’t know it from Savage U. He’s either a mensch or he’s good at playing one on TV. With his bottomless supply of witticisms and empathy, he urges young people to enjoy sex, as well as to understand its perils. Woe to the 20-year-old who admits she’s not using birth control. “You’re smart enough to operate an automobile,” he tells her. “How can you not be smart enough to operate your genitals?”

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