Dirty Little Secret (2022 Lifetime Movie)


Dirty Little Secret (2022 Lifetime)

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Cast: Melissa Joan Hart, Lizzie Boys

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

Inspired by true events, Dirty Little Secret follows seventeen-year-old Lucy (Lizzie Boys) who has been painfully isolated from her peers for years, refusing to let anyone near her house in order to hide her family secret – the overwhelming mountain of items filled in every crevice of space in her home. She quietly plans her escape to college while managing her mother Joanna’s (Melissa Joan Hart) hoarding disorder. Outwardly, a highly functioning nurse, Joanna maintains the dysfunction in their home with an obsessive grip but after a tragedy, Lucy must decide if she will hide her mother’s secret, or expose it to the world.

Recap/Wine Thoughts

Melissa Joan Hart plays Joanna, who, on the surface, seems like your perfect normal Lifetime mother. She drops her daughter Lucy off for school. We get a voice-over here from Lucy about high school cliques and secrets. It is clear the movie is being told from the daughter’s perspective. 

Lucy’s behavior around the school is a bit unusual. She only has one friend Kaylie and takes showers in the locker room instead of at home.

Cut back to Melissa Joan Hart, who is working at St. Mary’s Hospital. She is an empathetic, focused, and celebrated nurse. A former patient named Drew was saved by the realizing her was allergic to the titanium in his pacemaker. 

It is another sad story when Lucy and her mother come home after celebrating her birthday. The home is filled with organized chaos. Things are stacked to the ceiling, and a house is in disarray. The house has no running water, and Lucy only has one-half of her bed that isn’t overrun by clutter. It is so filthy that Melissa Joan Hart has to take an inhaler. The visuals effectively create a feeling of claustrophobia and sympathy for Lucy. (Who wants to become a fashion designer but can’t afford the application fee.)

Lucy calls her sister Sara for advice, but Sara tells her sister to be careful and not let anyone in the house, or they could call child protective services. Sara got out of the living situation and knows what Lucy is going through.

After watching some home reno shows, Melissa Joan Hart is inspired to clean up the living room. She gets distracted by her decor plans and wants to make a collage. They begin to go through boxes, and Melissa Joan Hart can’t part with anything. When Lucy can’t find a pair of scissors, Melissa Joan Hart screams, “I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS,” and blames Lucy for moving her stuff. 

Lucy meets with her new handsome partner for a class project. She makes up lies to keep him away from her house, and they work in his beautiful home on the project. (Like it has a citrus bowl!!!) Things aren’t as perfect as they seem either; Josh’s mother is an alcoholic. The two grow close other their dysfunctional families and even KISS in the music room! (Oooooooooooooo!) 

Through flashbacks, we see it started when Melissa Joan Hart’s husband left her, and she started buying things. MJH gets into a car accident, and Aunt Jean takes care of the kids. Aunt Jean realizes that MJH is taking on tendencies like their mother and hires professional cleaners. It doesn’t go over well, and MJH disowns her sister Jean. The two never speak again. 

Melissa Joan Hart goes on a date with her former patient, Drew, and she shares that she had tried to keep Lucy safe and secure with a wall she has built secluding them from everyone. While MJH is out, Lucy decides to throw away some bubble wrap and slowly remove things from the house. MJH notices the trash cans are unaligned, brings the bubble back in, and screams at Lucy so bad that her asthma flairs up. 

Lucy talks to her guidance counselor, doing that old this happened to “my friend.” things. The counselor calls child protective services. Lucy denies anything is happening at home. Next, the counselor calls Melissa Joan Hart and says she is concerned. MJH tells her off and says she should stick to college applications. 

The mother and daughter have a blowout fight that includes WebMD searches, excuses, and breaking dishes. Melissa Joan Hart is left in her house alone, crying and feeling helpless. MJH calls things off with Drew, realizing that she can never really have him in her life. She also calls off work and is beginning to spiral. 

MJH begins cleaning but only manages to throw away some bubble wrap and drops her inhaler. She becomes emotionally overwhelmed and can’t find her inhaler. MJH falls over and is covered in boxes.

Lucy comes home and finds her mother dead. She calls 911 but doesn’t want it to get out about the hoarding situation and hangs up. She calls her sister and brother, but they do not respond…. so Lucy covers the body with a blanket and starts cleaning up while crying, “NO, ONES GONNA KNOW!”

The cleaning session is interrupted by Kaylie, who is insistent about a party. Lucy stops the cleaning and leaves her dead mother IN THE HOUSE?!?!?!? (This doesn’t look good for Lucy and seems out of character for her.) 

Sara shows up at the house, and Lucy sends her sister away without telling her what happened. Inspiring Lifetime music plays as Lucy gets back to cleaning; she drives around town, throwing stuff away in dumpsters. 

Realizing it is hopeless, Lucy stops cleaning and has a well-deserved emotional breakdown. Then she covers her mom in family photos, plugs in a bunch of heat lamps, and starts a house fire.

Firefighters arrive as Lucy watches them in slow motion. She says the only way to keep a secret safe is to let it go. 

Side Note

Minority Report: Josh, Kaylie, Nurse Nadine, Teacher, Guidance Counselor, Virginia, 

Based on the book, ‘Dirty Little Secrets’ by C.J. Omololu

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*** I’ve updated the rating system moving forward. Knives represent # of kills. Wine is over enjoyment (NOT a value judgment) on a 1-5 scale.

 I will use the following tags for those who want to know whether to watch or skip: Pour it Up (Would Recommend) or Put A Cork In It (Would Not Recommend). 

Overall rating

Number of Kills: 

🔪 (1 Knives)

Enjoyment Level: 🍷🍷 (2 glasses of wine.)

What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments or on social media @LifetimeUncorked

*Photo Credit: © 2022 Lifetime® | A+E Networks®

Live tweet along with @LifetimeUncork using the hashtag #DirtyLittleSecret


  1. Who was the actor that played Melissa Joan Hart’s character, Joanna’s husband? Thank You. I give this made for TV movie 2 1/2 glasses of wine.

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