V.C. Andrews Dawn: Secrets of the Morning Review: F*ckboi Foolery, Scandalous Love Children & Dawn of a New HBIC

The secrets came tumbling out during this chapter of the V.C. Andrews Cutler Saga.

We spent much of V.C. Andrews’ Secrets of the Morning watching sweet, reasonable Dawn be a fool in lust for a sleazy celebrity with decent hair. Who among us hasn’t been there?

Secrets of the Morning had it all. We got entertaining lovable side characters, like the darling, devoted, and badass Tricia. The film also gave us some quality Fran Drescher content with her role as the nosy Agnes.

Older Lover - Secrets of the Morning

Secrets of the Morning also gave us eternally hot NKOTB, Joey McIntyre playing a total sleaze ball while rocking the hell out of some bell bottoms, an antiquated house of horrors, the death of a Queen Biotch, and Dawn’s come-up!

What more can you want?

Delivering Shocking News - Secrets of the Morning

Picking things up from where V.C. Andrews’ Dawn left off, our girl was free of Lillian, or so she thought, taking in all the zeal and fun of living in the big city.

And NYC in the ’70s had to be a total vibe.

The boarding house situation wasn’t too shabby. And even though Fran Drescher’s Agnes was a nosey actress under Lillian’s thumb and bought into all that bullshite Lillian scribed in her elegant writing via letter about Dawn, Agnes wasn’t that bad.

If the most challenging thing she could implement was making Dawn fill out a personalized “Sign-In” sheet every time she left the place and returned, then so be it.

Agnes Eavesdrops - Secrets of the Morning

And who hasn’t caught a little flack for coming home after 3 a.m.? It was a fair concern.

Also, the worry about her pissing off a roommate from hell who could be like Clara Jean was squashed almost instantly the second we met Tricia.

She was a genuine breath of fresh air, one of the absolute best side characters in the franchise thus far, and the epitome of a scene-stealer.

Tricia recognized that our girl was a bit sheltered and inexperienced, and she took Dawn under her wing like a pro. Tricia was so worldly and knowledgeable, had a bit of that street smarts you’d expect from a native city dweller, and she wasn’t with the sh*t.

Tricia Poses- Secrets of the Morning

If Dawn had just listened to Tricia a bit more, she probably wouldn’t have ended up being knocked up by Evil Greg Brady and living in an outdated house of horrors. As a side note, where’s the petition for Joey McIntyre to guest star in Minx? I’ll sign it!

Tricia was in a whole mood. It’s nothing worse than when you’re giving your friend advice, and they don’t listen, and you have to bite your tongue from saying, “I told you so,” when it all goes to hell.

But Tricia was a real one. I hope Dawn and Jimmy-cakes give our girl her due at some point in the future because she came through for both of them.

In many ways, the Cutler Saga has been more grounded than many of the kookier Lifetime works in the V.C.-Andrews-verse, but the Dawn series has had a pacing thing that’s been a bit off.

Groovy Times- Secrets of the Morning

We spent excessive time getting the ick from the flat-out grooming between Sutton the Sleaze and Dawn.

It took up roughly half the movie. While a girl can’t deny the appeal of a seductive Joey McIntyre, the context of what was happening was too icky. Frankly, it consumed too much time, potentially at the expense of other story aspects.

Jimmy-cakes certainly deserved a bit more development. He’s still suffered narratively in that regard, mostly just coming in when it’s convenient for the plot and being the perfect Brother Boyfriend a girl can ask for here.

Khobe Clarke is just so precious here that I’m a bit bummed he didn’t have more to do.

Jimmy Enlists- Secrets of the Morning

Jimmy-cakes is a good bean once you get over how easily HE got over lusting after his “sister.” But to its credit, Secrets of the Morning delivers a bit more struggle on Jimmy’s end, albeit briefly and with those minor scenes doing a lot of heavy lifting.

In them, it feels more apparent that while Jimmy loves Dawn to the moon and back, he’s still working through the adjustment period of what they are to each other.

He’s somehow processing that more realistically than she has been thus far.

His surprise visit felt earnest. He genuinely wanted to catch up with her before shipping to Europe. And where Dawn, notably reasonable in the first part, felt more naive and less sensible this time around, Jimmy-cakes picked up the slack there.

Jimmy Longchamp - V.C. Andrews' Dawn

He’s a former poor kid who got thrown into the foster care system until he aged out and didn’t get the chance to finish school or get his diploma.

On that day, the reasonable thing for him to do was to join the Army and get some assistance in learning a trade. Jimmy-cakes isn’t a slacker, and he’s a humble, honest, working type of man, dammit.

He was thinking about what was best for both of them. He needed to have an avenue of working an honest job to support them potentially, and he also didn’t want to distract her from following her dreams.

Jimmy Longchamp is a man, a marvelous man, you guys.

Make Out Sesh - Secrets of the Morning

It even made perfect sense that he wouldn’t want to salute Dawn’s hoo-ha with his flagpole before he shipped out.

He knew that Dawn was a virgin, that sex between them would mean something special, and he didn’t want to do that to her when he knew he had to leave.

He also didn’t want her to be tied down to just him and not get to live her life and just be a teenager, date, and do other things.

It was all so mature on his part, even if one maintains he still was trying to work through the fact that he wanted to mount the girl who used to be his sister.

No Sexytimes- Secrets of the Morning

Jimmy-cakes has a depth that leaps off the screen in these tiny little moments when it gets to chance because we don’t get enough of Jimmy otherwise.

And horny little Dawn was totally in her feelings about not getting deflowered by her brother-boyfriend. Frankly, that should’ve been the first sign that things would go downhill the second any boy paid her a lick of attention. Dawn was giving Heaven vibes, I’m afraid.

Because it wasn’t just a boy that did that; it was a full-grown man (child) with slick moves that suggested that it wasn’t his first time seducing a teen girl and bailing on her.

Michael Sutton was a naughty, naughty man. He’d probably be the Poster Predator of the MeToo movement back in the day and probably had a hell of a reckoning at some point in his life when things started catching up to him.

A Lothario- Secrets of the Morning

Imagine how many little Michaels and Michaelas roam around two continents because of him?

Actually, don’t because then it’d probably start a whole new next generation of incestual effery when two of his bastard children mistook some inexplicable deep connection with romantic love and not the blood of two siblings singing to each other.

Sutton the Sleaze had a great game. I can’t knock the guy for that.  Ahead of the strike, during our Joey McIntyre interview, he didn’t hesitate to call his character out on being a vain, inappropriate actor. Still, he also brought a bit of something human to the role so that he wasn’t just a one-dimensional villain.

And Sutton wasn’t just that, more than anything, this selfish guy who got what he wanted and didn’t really look back.

Sutton's Steely Gaze - VCA Dawn Secrets of the Morning

It was sad to see Dawn get wrapped up in his web, but he made it fairly easy plowing her, ahem, with compliments and praise at a time when she was getting denigrated by Lillian.

All the trinkets and ways he misled her to get what he desired were little things that Dawn didn’t have the foresight to see for what they were.

And the implication that she couldn’t get fully in touch with her craft unless she experienced things, like sex with him for the first time, felt like such a typical game someone in his position could run to manipulate someone who wanted to break into the business.

His line about how much he loved her innocence and wished she’d never lose it while unbuttoning her top and being the guy who intended to take that innocence was utterly wild and made me shudder in none of the fun ways.

Kisses Bathed in Light - VC Andrews Dawn

Michael Sutton was a real piece of work and a piece of something else.

By the time they were “making love” on that perfectly centered round bed, all one could do was sigh. And perhaps shake their head as much as they were shaking that damn bed.

Poor, Dawn.

It was uncomfortable to watch, but it’s all the reason that our Brec Bassinger interview about the scenes and the trust she and her McIntyre had in each other while navigating those steamy, intimate, albeit creepy moments was reassuring.

Michael's Seduction - Secrets of the Morning

Those are definitely difficult scenes to navigate, but both actors did it well and with this dreamy, vintage effect too.

Seriously, you can tell the crew had a blast playing around with the 70s theme, from the costumes and set to the make-up and hair.

I feel like they really committed to it more than usual.

Commitment is something Michael Sutton knows nothing about, so we knew he’d leave our girl high and dry when he learned the pregnancy news, but give that Broadway actor his due because he was convincing enough that he was excited about the news and wasn’t planning on hightailing it across the Atlantic without looking back.

Good lord, men are trash.

Judgy Lillian- Secrets of the Morning

Dawn’s condition bringing Lillian back into her life to look down on her and use her kitten heel to drop-kick Dawn to the Meadows was oof.

But Donna Mills is so damn good at playing this part that it was such a delight to see her return.

And dare I say; it was almost a bummer when she kicked the bucket at the end. But alas, sometimes evil does die. Now, if only her crazy religious nut sister will join her in hell!

The idea that Emily was working Dawn to the bone like Cinderella and trying to induce a miscarriage without actually doing it while still believing she was a great God-fearing woman and Christian was bonkers.

The Rags to Riches - Secrets of the Morning

But honestly, it’s not that far of a stretch, either. Nevertheless, the Meadows was a way to unlock more family secrets as Dawn learned that her namesake was that of Lillian’s sister, who died.

I don’t know; there was a whole lot of everything and nothing happening at the Meadows.

Things didn’t get real good until Jimmy-cakes busted in like G.I. Joe’s timid brother and rescued Dawn from that hellscape.

And you know Jimmy is a good guy because he didn’t bat an eye over the fact that his sister-girlfriend had just delivered a child with an asshole and now wanted to find that poor baby.

Kissing Jimmy - V.C. Andrews' Dawn

Lillian arranging for Christy Cutler to get the heave-ho like Dawn did was a special kind of sinister.

But clearly, Lillian was pissed to the highest degree of passivity because she must’ve known that Big Daddy Cutler couldn’t keep it in his pants and had that Cutler penchant for sexually assaulting folks.

Lillian must’ve known that Dawn was Big Daddy Cutler’s daughter and that she’d be entitled to most of the Cutler estate.

That legally binding paperwork will get you every time, no matter what Lillian attempted to do.

Alas, now our girl is the new Head Bitch In Charge of the Culter Hotel dynasty, and all of the twisted Cutler family have to deal with her running things or kiss her ass.

Clara Jean in Charge?

Dawn isn’t seeing the value in being in control of this mess right now because she’s not interested in getting dragged into Rich People’s Problems, but surely, she’ll see the value in that Culter name and Dynasty, the power she can now wield, and all the good things she can do with it now that she has it.

And Jimmy-cakes bagged him a sugar momma without even realizing it. Blessings upon blessings, amen, indeed. He deserves it.

I have to respect Dawn for doing everything in her power to find her kid. It makes her lightyears ahead of both her birth mother and her adopted daddy.

It’s wild to hear that Ormand just up and married a new chick within a year and had another baby like he doesn’t have a whole other daughter out there in the system somewhere or just gone.

Laura Jean's Secret

But I guess it’s healthier than kidnapping new babies, so progress, maybe?

Dawn has money, her man, and is about to get her daughter, so we already know more drama is to come.

And we’ll be here for it if you are!

Over to you, V.C. Andrews Fanatics. What did you think of Secrets of the Morning? Which cameo and guest star was your favorite? Sound off below.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.

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