'Client List' Producers Preview Big Turning Point: Riley 'Changes Forever'

"We were wondering what if Riley got really, really desperate with money and some crises happened to her," executive producer Ed Decter tells THR of Sunday's episode.
Michael Desmond/Lifetime
"The Client List"

The Client List heads into rocky waters when Riley Parks (Jennifer Love Hewitt), mother of two and owner of a day spa that gives much more than massages, is forced to make a life-altering decision in Sunday’s episode.

“The character changes forever,” executive producer Ed Decter tells The Hollywood Reporter.

It’s a pivotal hour for Riley, whose husband Kyle (Brian Hallisay) remains incarcerated, as she continues to juggle raising her children and working in what’s considered an improper profession. One of her clients, played by guest star Josh Hopkins, offers her a way out of her financial mess: $50,000 for a night of sex. In true Client List fashion, the circumstances surrounding the proposal are far more complex.

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Decter, along with executive producer John Strauss, talk to THR about Sunday’s momentum shift.

The Hollywood Reporter: Is it fair to say Sunday’s episode will be a turning point for Riley?

Ed Decter: We were wondering what if Riley got really, really desperate with money and some crises happened to her. Then we wanted to do what we call our Indecent Proposal episode. What if somebody offered you a lot of money? The big debate will be whether she’ll go through with it or whether she won’t go through with it.

THR: How does she get into the situation where she’s actively debating whether or not to take her client up on his offer?

Decter: Her mother [Lynette, played by Cybill Shepherd,] goes into rehab, her son needs special training to remedy a dyslexia problem, the house payments, the payments for The Rub and the lawyer payments for her husband. She’s really behind [financially].
John Strauss: Just like any typical American.
Decter: [Laughs] Just like any single mom.

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THR: Was there any hesitation in moving forward with a story like this?

Decter: The premise of the show is a woman living a double life and one of the central themes of the show is illicit sex. One of the things we said was how far would someone go or not go? Again, we don’t know whether she’ll go through with the indecent proposal or whether she won’t.
Strauss: Our favorite shows always push the envelope and that makes for good drama.

THR: Were there any particular notes given by the network for this specific episode?

Decter: The network was one of the main driving forces in pushing the envelope. We have this show and this woman who works at an upscale massage parlor and there’s the list of secret clients. We already know that one of the women working at the spa, Selena (Alicia Lagano), goes further than just what we call digital manipulation.

THR: No matter what Riley decides to do, what does this dilemma mean for Riley moving forward?

Decter: It will change her forever one way or another. It forces her to come to a cliff and really take a look at who she is and who she’s become. It’s important for that to happen to her character. A show like Breaking Bad, there’s this guy who’s got cancer, how far would you go to provide for your family and he starts cooking meth. They pushed it way over the edge.

THR: Jennifer Love Hewitt directed this episode. What was it like having her behind the camera?

Decter: She directed the 14th episode too. She is a phenomenal director. She’s fast.
Strauss: She’s the fastest director that we’ve worked with. She’s so speedy.
Decter: Because she grew up on the set, she knows every angle, every shot.
Strauss: She knows what every crewmember does, how to talk to them, she’s best friends with the crew.

THR: Was this always part of the plan for Jennifer to direct this episode?

Decter: Once we pitched the story to her, Love said, “That’s the one I’m going to direct.” She knew for sure that that was the one she was going to direct. She said, “That’s a big decision for Riley. We have to figure out how we can make it so that the audience understands it if she did or if she didn’t [go through with it].”

The Client List airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on Lifetime. Check back following the East Coast airing to hear what producers have to say about what's in store for Riley.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@thr.com
Twitter: @insidethetube