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13 Things *RIGHT* with the Chris Watts Lifetime Movie

It’s easy to know in hindsight, but infidelity lies at the heart of the Chris Watts case. While researching this case I wanted to see the instances, in particular the very first instances, where law enforcement asked Watts about infidelity. There are a few, but the first, captured on Coonrod’s body camera where he asks Watts whether his separation with Shan’ann is “civil” camera is perhaps the most significant.

I was pleased to see Lifetime dramatized it, even if the execution was poor.

1. “Did you guys have any kinda of issues…marital issues or…?”

It is interesting how the dramatization gets subtle aspects wrong. Nickole Atkinson isn’t around when Coonrod mentions this in reality, and I’m not sure if it’s fair to say she was unaware that the couple had marital issues. What is true is Watts was claiming the separation was more formalized, more established than it really was. Also, in the Lifetime movie the actor says quite assertively, “We’re separated.” Chris Watts puts a milder touch to it, stuttering, “We’re going through a separation.”

2. Sex with Nichol Kessinger

Although everyone is aware of it, and everyone seems to think they know this case inside out, it’s clear the five week period Watts and Kessinger together felt like a honeymoon for both of them. It’s because of the spark and electricity of these encounters that Watts was largely desperate to keep the new relationship viable. And since Watts was somewhat inexperienced with the opposite sex, one can imagine the spell being cast over him being much stronger as a result when he found himself in a position of a coworker pursuing him.

3. Shan’ann on social media but seen from the perspective of a third party.

4. Nut Gate.

Although not explictly referred to there is a scene where Shan’ann mentions not wanting their children to sleep at the Watts home.

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5. Deeter Gate

This scene is slightly more explicit than Nut Gate.

One can see how both Nut Gate and Deeter Gate raised the pressure on Watts to find a solution to his marital dilemma.

6. Watts is depicted as not happily married.

7. Not dramatizing the driveway.


[Points 8 – 13 will be provided on Patreon].


  1. Sylvester

    I also thought the loneliness factor was presented, not asserted necessarily, but for the viewer to contemplate for themselves if one so chose to. I thought it was symbolic when Shan’ann is up in her bedroom, alone, (Chris at work? Children in daycare?) and what does she have to do with herself but make a Strive video proclaiming how great life is. The big huge bed is empty, there is no one in the big huge house but her – she wanted the oversized furniture and the too-big house to fill her own sense of despair that existed before she married Watts. And of course the overwhelming feeling of a large looming house in front of Watts, that represents unhappy occupants, financial burdens, and a pretend life. If the Lifetime movie viewers took all of that and pasted on a typical story of a man who was unfaithful to his wife as soon as she left town, which became the sole reason for annihilating his whole family then no one has learned anything from this particular case. The Lifetime movie’s job wasn’t to present a motive, because they don’t understand or know the motive – but as a viewer I liked the movie as it caused me to think about the case again and see actors acting out the case. It was a colorful collage of dysfunction, but the lack of money object wasn’t inserted, and should have been.

    • Juliew

      I don’t know why they didn’t go into the finance and spending because it was a big factor wasn’t it. $52208 is apparently median male salary in USA – so at $60k Chris was a bit above. Am going to ignore the level money because I’m not actually convinced there was any income. So shouldn’t have been desperate but so clearly not enough for that house, private school and ….just stuff.

      • Sylvester

        Yep Julie. And so the Anadarko gift cards were a little secret he also kept from her. Who knows how long he had been collecting them.

  2. Sylvester

    And if we think about the true wording of the quote by Oscar Wilde – “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life” if this movie had portrayed their characters as imitating art, the film would have taken on a far greater meaning, as wasn’t that what the real Chris Watts and Shan’ann Watts doing? Then it would have been “life imitates art as life.” But instead what I think the Lifetime movie was really up to was an attempt at Wilde’s quote backwards, that art (the film) imitated the Watts life. Even so, as a viewer, we can take it any way we want. And it was neither good, nor bad.

  3. richard

    I think they got the clothing correct for the two main characters.
    even the ‘opps we did it again’ T-shirt was correct

  4. Juliew

    I rewatched a chunk of it last night and I do think the main actors made a fairly decent hash of it within the constraints of how the direction and narrative had been decided – which was outside the actors remit. Chris a bit too animated and humorous but some bits (porch, police interviews) really quite good. I suppose he must have done some reciprocal wooing of Nicole but it’s one of the few things we don’t have actual film of so it was odd to see him do that. Shannan sort of felt like her but as if she’d been neutralized somewhat. I remember nicks earlier post about shannans family being upset about the depiction of the actual murder and how it was a shame they were upset over a depiction of something that didn’t actually happen in the way the film portrayed. It was a somewhat lingering depiction. It did that thing with camera angles where it suggested it was from the eyeline of the murderer looking down at the murderee. Makes me a bit uncomfortable as murders of women are often depicted in film and tv like that and there’s almost a subtle invitation to the viewer to imagine they were doing it.

  5. Sylvester

    In the Officer Coonrod body cam, and I don’t know if this was in the movie, Watts gets cornered one other place in the house – the clothes closet – as he’s trying to explain that they were going through a separation and were going to sell the house yet there are no boxes packed up and everything is still there in it’s place. So he back pedals a little and says just today she was going to a friend’s house, to imply that packing and boxing things up wouldn’t happen today. Soon they will find out he called his Realtor, on his own, and the Primrose school. He has this tendency to talk a story, then look up at whomever is in charge and see how it registers. I have no idea what he did in 62 seconds when he ran ahead into the house before letting anyone in. Because I can clearly see one of the sheets on the floor with the other bedding when Officer Baumhover arrives, so I think he may have just run upstairs to see how things looked, then possibly down to pick up anything she dropped on the way up the stairs – like her purse – and moved her suitcase under the stairwell. If he had her ring in his pocket he may not have thought so quickly to put it on the nightstand, he may have still had it in his pocket until he could seize a moment and pull it out and show it, then put it on the nightstand allowing people to assume she took it off as a symbol of marital discord before leaving with the kids. For the most part, he was improvising as he went along. You can premeditate a crime, but not know how it’s going to play out and certainly not know how it will be received.

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