One of these women is Britney Spears. One of these women is emphatically NOT.
One of these women is Britney Spears. One of these women is emphatically NOT. (Image: Tina Tiller)

Warning: Britney Ever After is NOT Framing Britney Spears

Have you been duped by a Lifetime movie masquerading as a documentary? Sam Brooks is here to help you tell the difference between Britney Ever After and Framing Britney Spears.

Last week, a colleague told me that she’d sat down the previous evening to watch buzzy documentary Framing Britney Spears, and was confused to see an actress playing the popstar. She and her friend soldiered on through what they thought was a documentary for half an hour, before realising that this wasn’t one of those documentaries that employs actors to reenact certain events. 

It turns out my colleague and her friend were, in actual fact, watching Britney Ever After, which is streaming now on TVNZ on Demand. Likely due to the renewed interest in Spears, it appears to currently be one of the platform’s most popular offerings, despite it being almost four years old. (In case you’re wondering, Framing Britney Spears is available to stream on ThreeNow.)

One of these Britney Spears stories is a thoughtful piece of work that lays out the chronology of Spears’ life, her relationship with the media, and her struggles with mental illness and the conservatorship she was placed under in 2007. The other plays out as though it was written by someone who read the popstar’s Wikipedia page, bottle of wine in hand, and then wrote the script the following morning based on what they remembered.

Guess which one Britney Ever After is.

Hint: It’s the one where Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake have a dance off after breaking up.

Here’s a few more hints to clue you in to whether you’re watching Framing Britney Spears or Britney Ever After.

  • The above person is not Britney Spears. She looks more like Britney Spears than I do, but that’s not an especially high bar to clear. Something that might clue you in is that she does not speak with the same accent as Britney Spears. It could most charitably be described as a “Southern accent”, but god knows where it’s south of.

  • This is also not Justin Timberlake, no matter how much the film tries to convince us that it could be, by shrouding him in shadow for most of his screen time. A wig made of Maggie Noodles does not do as much work as you think it would.
  • There are no Britney Spears songs in the film. The music is instead provided by “Danny Lux”. Danny Lux’s other credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Ally McBeal and scattered episodes throughout the Bachelor franchise. Danny Lux’s other credits do not include ‘Baby One More Time’ or any of Britney Spears’ other work. (Hilariously, the only Britney songs they kind of get away with using is a soundalike of her covers of ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ and ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll’)

  • Little known fact: producers at award shows generally keep the lights on during performances. It’s a lot easier to see the person onstage if the lights are on. Britney Ever After gets this crucial aspect of stagecraft wrong, as you can see in the above image and every performance in this film.
  • Whatever the hell this is meant to be:

  • There is a scene where Britney Spears barks like a dog, possibly to signify that she is mentally ill. This is not just an offensive portrayal of mental illness, it’s an offensive portrayal of any human being.
  • Britney Ever After portrays Justin Timberlake as the love of Britney Spears’ life, rather than a grifter who owes Janet Jackson a lot of money (as far as I’m concerned). They literally put the words “He was the only thing in my life that was real” into her mouth. Gross!
  • The film generally focuses on Britney Spears’ love life. Her conservatorship is brought up only once, towards the end, and it is presented as an unambiguously good thing.
  • This guy, who appears to have a glued on goatee:

  • Britney Spears wore a denim dress in reality, rather than a denim jumpsuit, in probably the most famous denim-related photo in history.
  • Similarly, Britney Spears famously wore a pink wig when she lashed out at the paparazzi, not a blue-purple one.
  • Britney Spears probably wouldn’t be so candid with a fake documentary crew in real life as she is in this, considering she isn’t even interviewed in Framing Britney Spears (for fairly obvious reasons).
  • I can’t say this for sure, but I don’t think Britney Spears divorced Kevin Federline via text. That is famously a Russell Brand move.

  • For all the tabloid stories that have spread about Britney Spears, it seems to be well understood that she’s quite a lovely person and never a diva, and definitely not the diva she is portrayed as here.
  • Britney Ever After seems entirely disinterested in showing Britney Spears at the height of her powers, as a switched on, uniquely charismatic popstar who put out memorable award show performances on a regular basis and captured the hearts of millions. Instead it revels in showing her at her lowest moments, and the only bits it seems to want to recreate with any adherence to reality are her most famous and well-photographed nadirs (see: the head shaving, lashing out at the paparazzi). That’s probably the biggest hint you’re watching a Lifetime movie, and not a sympathetic documentary.

All these are clues that you may have been watching Britney Spears Ever After. Also, it’s in the title. Better viewing everyone.

You can watch Framing Britney Spears on ThreeNow and Britney Spears Ever After on TVNZ on Demand.

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