Is the Lifetime Movie 'Mommy Meanest' Based on a True Story?

Lisa Rinna in character for 'Mommy Meanest'

Lifetime's Mommy Meanest tells the story of a mom who viciously cyberbullies her daughter, and the only thing more shocking than the movie itself is the fact that it's loosely based on real events.

"It is a true story and it was challenging," Lisa Rinna, who plays the titular mother, told Parade. "I was certainly scared of it and I thought that means, 'I need to do it.' It was quite a challenge to find the empathy in this woman because as a mother myself, of course, I can't imagine ever doing something like that. But you have to find out what would drive somebody to go to those lengths out of the fear of losing their child."

Keep reading for details about the true story that inspired Mommy Meanest, which premieres May 11 at 8 p.m. ET.

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Is the Lifetime movie Mommy Meanest based on a true story?

Loosely. The movie opens with the following message: "While this film is inspired by actual events, the characters and events depicted within are fictional."

According to Lifetime (via People), the movie is inspired by the story of Kendra Gail Licari "and other cases similar to it." Licari is a Michigan mother who cyberbullied her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend for almost two years, then helped her child report the incident to the authorities.

Perhaps Licari thought she wouldn't get caught—she used location-hiding software and worked with multiple different numbers, some of which were intended to cast doubt on her daughter's very own friends—but that wasn't the case. Investigators uncovered 349 pages of “demeaning, demoralizing, and just mean texts,” and DMs on social media, according to People. They were traced back to Licari.

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What happened to the real life Mommy Meanest?

Last year, Licari plead guilty to two counts of stalking a minor and was sentenced to between 19 months and five years behind bars.

Isabella County Prosecutor David Barberi told Local 12 that the mother's actions were perhaps a sort of “cyber Munchausen's syndrome,” a tactic to weaken and control them. “[It] seems to be the type of behavior where you're making somebody feel bad—or need you in their life—because of this behavior.”

Licari's exact motive is unclear because she took a plea deal and her case didn't go to trial.

In Mommy Meanest, Rinna's character initiates the bullying after her daughter, who's planning to go to college 3,000 miles form home, starts hanging out with a new boy and establishes a newfound independence. The bullying is intended to keep her daughter close.

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