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TV Review: Lifetime’s ‘The Lottery’

Lifetime premieres The Lottery—executive produced by Timothy J. Sexton—on Sunday July 20, 10 p.m. ET. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Bringing together elements also found in CBS’ Extant – life conception, science fiction and the threat of human extinction – Lifetime’s The Lottery is more political thriller than anything else, a series that does little to establish its place or time while setting up a high-stakes drama centered around two seemingly overmatched protagonists against the wheels of government. Created by Timothy J. Sexton, who wrote the similarly dystopian feature Children of Men, the premiere is enough to whet the appetite, though a wholehearted endorsement would be, pardon the expression, premature.”
—Brian Lowry, Variety

“The real question is not whether or not The Lottery can find success with the Lifetime crowd, it’s whether or not it can find success outside of it. If it succeeds, this will be the first drama that really puts the network on the map, and with the help of a creative team that includes Gotham pilot director Danny Cannon, the odds seem to be in the series favor.”
—Merrill Barr, Forbes

“Overall, the pilot stalls with the usual introductions, setup, and by-the-numbers twists. There’s a dogged sense of purpose behind it that could, if thoughtfully explored, become a low-budget thriller for a network that’s taking some steps into a brave new world, but there’s an awful lot hanging on that ‘thoughtfully.’”
—Genevieve Valentine, A.V. Club

“Protect the kids, and make some more. Is that a Lifetime bull's-eye or what? The Lottery adds power trips, market forces, espionage and sheer human desperation on an end-of-world scale. The pilot hour directed by ace show-starter Danny Cannon (CSIAlcatrazGotham) is not your auntie's Lifetime show. Which means it might be yours and your brother's – a broad attraction for a channel with its own desperate desire to shed that women-in-jeopardy tag.”
—Diane Werts, Newsday

“But whatever potential The Lottery has to look at the connection between fertility and power, or the timely issues of women’s reproductive autonomy–or a simple dramatic fight over the future of the species–is wasted with flat characters and flimsy political intrigue that plays like a duller version of Scandal.”
—James Poniewozik, Time