“Garage Sale Mystery” was a Canadian/American TV series produced by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries from 2013-2018. It gained enormous fame–but for a very wrong reason. Its star, Lori Loughlin, and her husband Mossimo Gianulli, were arrested for having paid a $500,000.00 bribe to get their two daughters into Stanford University.
It didn’t stop with just arrest, however. Both were sentenced to prison, and actually served time, Ms. Loughlin for two months (late October through late December of 2020). She also was fined $150K, and sentenced to 100 hours of community service. Mr. Gianulli was imprisoned for about four and a half months (mid-November 2020 through early April 2021), and had to pay a fine of $250K, plus, to add injury to insult, to complete 250 hours of community service.
“I paid $500,000.00 and all I got was this lousy t-shirt and a stay in prison.”
I doubt if they got their bribe money back. And one does have to wonder about the practical wisdom of people who spend a fortune in bribes to send their children to college. If they had spent the $500,000.00 keep their children out of college, we might begin to sit up and take notice. That would have made more sense.
I would never have become involved with Lori Loughlin and “Garage Sale Mystery,” except for chance (call it Providence, perhaps). For several of these most recent years I watched DVDs with my Aged Parent. Occasionally my sister Peggy would join us, although not often. Peggy decided to vary our options, so she began to pick out some films at the public library. One of the DVDs she picked out was collection one of “Garage Sale Mystery,” which featured the first four “GSM” films. We tried them out.
Well, the films didn’t go over very well with my mother and with Peggy. I think they watched a couple, then bailed out. I, on the other hand, found myself interested enough to keep watching. I watched all of the four films. It is not the kind of thing I would usually watch, but I found myself intrigued. Collection two was not available at our library, but through inter-library loan I was able to obtain it. Over time I have seen all the collections, and the single films trailing on at the end with belated release.
At the point of my introduction to “GSM,” I knew nothing about Lori Loughlin’s troubles with the law. Eventually I found out that the star of “Garage Sale Mystery” was supposedly headed for prison. Not what you expect from your typical TV star.
Moreover, her troubles with the law meant the end of the TV series. She was fired. Two of the films already completed were eventually released, one only as recently as 2020. Another film supposedly needed only another week of filming to be complete, but that week never took place. And so far Hallmark has not announced that Lori Loughlin and “GSM” will make a triumphant comeback. Personally, I have not given up hope.
This blog post is not intended to generate donations for the Gianulli family. Ms. Loughlin has a reported net worth of $8,000,000.00. Her husband, a designer, has an approximate net worth of $80,000,000.00. They will muddle through, somehow or other.
The sixteen films which make up the series “Garage Sale Mystery” are not great art. But they were fun and I’m glad I watched them. Eventually I will see if they bear up to a second watching.
The idea for the series was prompted by the book Garage Sale Stalker (2010) by Suzi Weinert. That was the beginning of a series of books with the same heroine. I have read the first book. The TV series goes its own way, rather than follow the plot and atmosphere of the first book. And I think the TV people made a wise decision. The book is much darker than the TV series. Hallmark was not going to be able to have a multi-show series of garage sale mysteries, if they copied the tone of the book. Let the book stand on its own, among books. The TV series competes with other TV series. Its artistic arc is different–but not necessarily worse. I won’t be rereading Garage Sale Stalker. (I even found myself annoyed that Ms. Weinert insists on spelling the name of God as god.) The book was not enough to my taste to warrant rereading. But the TV shows may be worth re-watching, and certainly all sixteen segments held my interest the first time around.
There are a couple factors which make the TV series worth watching–at least worth watching for me. For one thing, Jennifer Shannon (Lori Loughlin) is happily married to her husband Jason, a successful builder. They have a profound affection for one another, and treat each other with respect. They have two children, a girl and a boy. The girl is in her late teens perhaps into her early twenties. The boy is of high school age. And here’s what is fascinating about the young people. (Sit down before you read this.) The kids are not smart alecks. The family gets along, affectionately. There is not a hint of Christianity anywhere in the films, of course. But even so it is kind of refreshing to find young people who are not sophisticated wise acres who are ten times smarter, and ten times more morally hip, than their parents.
Then there is the person and personality of Jennifer Shannon. I don’t know how closely Jennifer approximates Lori Loughlin. LL is, after all, an actress. She may be an unholy terror in real life. But in the movies of the series, Jennifer Shannon is a genuinely likeable person. She is of course physically attractive–always an advantage (I blush to say it). She made the shows during the years when she was between the ages of about 49 and 54. She continued to be a physically beautiful woman through all those years. (If I wasn’t supposed to notice, I have messed up again, because I did notice.)
But part of Jennifer Shannon’s beauty arises from her kind and generous personality. She genuinely tries to help other people, and she does so with a radiant smile. She is the kind of person with whom one would want to spend time. Which may be why the series was a success for so many years. And why it might have gone on many more years, if Lori Loughlin had not been stuck in Folsom Prison doing hard time with Johnny Cash in the next cell block.
Lori Loughlin is supposedly a Roman Catholic. Here is one quote from Ms. Loughlin, after her famous troubles with the law : “I ignored my intuition and allowed myself to be swayed from my moral compass.”
Very succinct, and to the point. Well said.
The sixteen films (about 1:25 each in length) which make up the series “Garage Sale Mystery” are not going to be to everyone’s taste. I repeat: they are not great art. Sadly, the DVDs lack subtitles. They are expensive to buy. Today I saw where the complete 16-film series costs $104.90 (free shipping) at Amazon. That is a lot of money for most of us. (I have not been tempted to buy them. I can make do with inter-library loan, for the ones our library does not carry.)
Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on the series, if you feel like reading more about the show: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garage_Sale_Mystery.
Hallmark, as far as I am concerned, Lori Loughlin has paid her debt to society. I think she is ready to go straight and make something of her life. I hope you will give her another chance. Jennifer Shannon has a knack for solving murders while remaining a generous-spirited lady, and she needs to put that knack to work again.