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Interest in Social Workers Motivated Writer of Lifetime TV’s “Marry Me” Miniseries

In December Lifetime television ran “Marry Me,” a two-part miniseries about a social worker in a love “quadrangle” with three men. Social worker Rae Carter was played by actress Lucy Liu, who is better known for her action roles in “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” and “Charlie’s Angels.”

What made Lifetime decide to make a social worker the lead character in a romance? talked to veteran Hollywood writer Barbara Hall, who penned the miniseries, to find out why.

Q: Ms. Hall, what made you decided to cast Rae Carter as a social worker?

HALL: I became interested in social workers and the whole family court system when I was doing “Judging Amy.”  Amy was a juvenile court judge and her mother, played by Tyne Daly, was a social worker at the Department of Children and Families.  The research I did for that show led me into a whole world which I describe as “invisible America.” People are really doing God’s work there for very little recognition.

Q: Did you consult with any social workers when writing the role?

HALL: I didn’t consult with social workers for this particular script because I basically got a PhD in the subject during the “Judging Amy” years (I am speaking figuratively).  We had many people from the family court system on staff as consultants, mostly based in Connecticut where the show was set.  We also did a lot of independent research in Los Angeles.



Barbara Hall. Photo courtesy of James Madison University.

Q: Social workers are often portrayed as drab and bureaucratic but Lucy Liu bought style and energy to the role. Do you  think social workers are often miscast as being less than glamorous?


HALL: I think it is more serious than social workers being miscast in television and film.  I think they are primarily ignored.  But yes, on the rare occasions when they are depicted, they are both drab (Hollywoodese for poor) and inept.  It’s true that it’s a government job so it doesn’t do to glam it up but you have to split the difference.  We tried to keep it on the attractive side of real.  As for the work itself, nothing is more dramatic than what goes on in that world.  As a writer, you don’t have to add.  Sometimes you have to dial it back.  In the case of “Marry Me,” I wanted to give Rae a relationship with a foster kid which was far less bleak than we usually see.  That was appropriate to the tone of the piece but it was also a way to remind people that not everything about the foster care system is broken.  Sometimes it actually works.

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  1. I wish that the writer HAD at least had some social workers read the script for the “Marry Me” movie. She would have been advised that no child is placed on a moment’s notice into a home that has not had a home study and been cleared, particularly the home of the child’s worker. There are ethical issues involved in the taking into your home a child from your own agency, especially a child on your caseload. There was no home visit, pre-placement visit or other preparatory work done when the child was suddenly placed into another foster setting when the caseworker’s personal life took a turn…giving a wrong impression of how children are placed, especially children old enough to be involved in the process. The caseworker should not have had actual files at home, certainly not had confidential information out where a visitor could read it, and should not have shared the information about the background of the foster child with other people. As a social worker for 30+ years, working in child protective services in two states, I am always glad to see social workers acknowledged on television, even made attractive, but it might have been instructive for her to have some crises, go out on some hard cases and really show the process that is in place to keep children from being moved precipitously…exactly as she was shown doing.

  2. I haven’t seen Marry Me, so cannot comment on that show specifically. I loved Judging Amy and think it did a great job in portraying Tyne Daly’s character as a professional social worker. However, something that strikes me in this interview is that Ms. Hall seems to base her knowledge of social workers on that one character. There are many other roles and settings that social workers are in every day. I would love to see Hollywood branch out and portray social workers in some of these other roles. For example, there are many medical shows on TV every night, portraying families in difficult situations in which there would often be a social worker in real life. Where are the social workers on these shows? The same goes for some of the legal shows.

  3. Hmmm…after reading Jane Osborn’s comment about the show, I’d like to mention that an article was just published in THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER this week about the issue of foster care workers adopting from their own caseloads. You can read the article here:

    This article addresses the ethical issues involved in adopting from one’s own caseload.

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