It's back-to-school season, and anyone preparing for their SATs this year hopefully won't re-live what the previous test-taking season brought. Less than a year since the reveal of a college admissions scheme allegedly involving Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, students and teachers alike can't stop talking about this snafu. Seemingly based on these real-life events, Lifetime's The College Admissions Scandal movie trailer captures all of the suspense of those dramatic headlines.
In March 2019, authorities charged 50 people for allegedly paying millions of dollars in bribes to secure their children's placement at prestigious colleges. Dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," the investigation alleged that consultant William Singer had been part of an intricate scheme of bribing exam proctors, creating false background stories, and changing test scores in order to strengthen students' college applications. In March 2019, Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice. Singer was later released on a $500,000 bond.
Included among the accused parents were Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Full House's Lori Loughlin. As of September 2019, prosecutors have called for Huffman to spend a month in jail after she pleaded guilty to committing mail fraud and honest services fraud in her attempts to help her daughter get into college. Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli last appeared in court on Aug. 27 after pleading not guilty to allegedly paying a total of $500,000 to earn their daughters spots at the University of Southern California.
The women's legal fates may still be unclear, but Lifetime is painting its own dramatic portrait in its interpretation of the scandal. Loosely based on these ongoing events, the network's The College Admissions Scandal introduces two wealthy mothers committed to getting their children into elite schools regardless of the consequences.
In the trailer, Caroline (Penelope Ann Miller) worries about her struggling son, and takes a slightly naive approach to recruiting the movie's equivalent of Singer. "You do such great work for so many people," she tells him. "There must be something you can do."
Meanwhile, Bethany (Mia Kirshner) is a little more ruthless, saying to her daughter, "You studied Darwin last year, didn't you? ... Some species survive and some don't."
Footage shows Bethany supervising a photo shoot fabricating her daughter's involvement in sports, while Caroline's son unknowingly hands in his SAT test to a monitor who begins fixing his answers. Both situations seem to reflect what allegedly happened in real life, as Loughlin's daughters were reportedly admitted into USC as crew team recruits despite them apparently never participating, while Huffman confessed to paying at least $15,000 for a proctor to change her daughter's SAT answers.
Trouble comes in The College Admissions Scandal when the FBI catches onto the mothers' actions. This discovery ignites tension between Caroline and her husband and makes Bethany's daughter fear she'll be arrested too. The trailer also hints at the pressure building upon the mothers as their misdoings are further uncovered. The clips don't quite get to the legal procedures following the initial scandal, but given the focus on the real-life crime's aftermath, perhaps The College Admissions Scandal has bleak ends in store for Bethany and Caroline.
The College Admissions Scandal premieres at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 12, on Lifetime.