The Cutler novel series by V.C. Andrews portrays an exceptionally disturbing and scandalous family. The TV adaptation, Dawn, intensifies the drama, focusing on sexual scandals within an aristocratic household. The story follows Dawn, a hapless teenage girl who was kidnapped at birth and raised in challenging circumstances, but with love from her abductors. However, her life takes a tragic turn when she reunites with her biological family, the Cutlers, who treat her like a servant, contrasting the affection she was given in her previous home. The TV series tries to create a dark and mysterious atmosphere to build tension, but at its core, the story mainly revolves around scandalous and eye-rolling twists regarding the mistakes made by Dawn and her family.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In Lifetime’s ‘Dawn’ Series?
The show is based on three novels from V. C. Andrews’ Cutler novel series, which included Dawn, Twilight’s Child, and Midnight Whispers. In the first book, we were introduced to Dawn, a teenage girl, and her struggling family, the Longchamps. Ormand and Sally Longchamp, along with their son Jimmy, faced financial challenges, leading them to move from place to place due to Ormand’s job as a janitor.
One day, Ormand landed a job at an exclusive private high school in Virginia, prompting the family to relocate there. Dawn and Jimmy were enrolled in the school, where they encountered both friends and enemies. At school, Dawn came across Clara Jean Cutler, her classmate, who was arrogant and spoiled, showing no empathy towards others who were not as rich as her. Despite Clara Jean’s rude behavior towards Dawn, her brother Philip Cutler developed an intense interest in her. Initially, Dawn was unaware of Philip’s intentions and started to appreciate his gentlemanly demeanor. They began dating and even shared a kiss.
Meanwhile, Sally, who was pregnant, safely gave birth to her daughter but tragically succumbed to consumption. Dawn was devastated by this loss, but before she could process her grief, another shocking event unfolded: the police came to arrest Ormand. Dawn was puzzled and shocked, and during her conversation with the police, she learned the harsh reality of her life. It turned out that she was not the daughter of the Longchamps; instead, she was kidnapped by them when she was born. Her birth name was Eugenia Cutler, and her real parents were Randolph and Laura Jean Cutler, and her siblings were Philip and Clara Jean. This revelation was overwhelming and difficult to believe, but knowing that Ormand had confessed to the kidnapping, she could confirm that it was not a bad dream but a harsh truth she had to face. Subsequently, Ormand was imprisoned, and his newborn daughter, Fern and Jimmy, were sent to foster care.
What Happened in Cutler Cove? How did Dawn end up in New York?
The Cutler family was known for their wealth and their ownership of The Cutler’s Cove hotel. However, after the passing of patriarch William Cutler, his wife, Lillian, took charge of the hotel’s affairs, but she proved to be a harsh and sadistic woman towards Dawn. After Dawn arrived in the family, she felt she wasn’t welcomed by Lillian, who was treating her more like a servant than family. Unfortunately, Dawn had no one to turn to, as everyone in the family, including her biological parents, Randolph and Laura Jean, obediently followed Lillian’s every command.
Meanwhile, as Philip had just been revealed to be Dawn’s brother, Dawn maintained distance from him, but Philip, a perverted spoiled brat, started making unwanted advances towards her. Despite Dawn’s attempts to resist him, Philip persisted in his inappropriate behavior, causing her to resent him deeply. On the other hand, Jimmy, who had treated Dawn as his sister all their lives, confessed that his feelings had changed right away when he learned they were not biologically related. Similarly, Dawn’s feelings towards Jimmy had also changed because they were found out to be no longer blood-related.
However, amidst all the family drama, Dawn made a startling discovery. The midwife who was present during her kidnapping revealed that it wasn’t the Longchamps who had intentionally kidnapped her; it was Lillian who had paid them to do so. The reason behind this dark secret was Laura Jean’s extramarital affairs, with Dawn being the result of one of those affairs. Lillian hired the Longchamps to kidnap Dawn in order to cover up this scandal and keep it out of the Cutler family’s name.
Armed with this newfound information, Dawn confronted Lillian and threatened to report her to the police. Intimidated by Dawn’s audacity, Lillian had no choice but to negotiate with her. Dawn demanded enrollment in a music school to nurture her talent in exchange for her silence about Lillian’s misdeeds. Reluctantly, Lillian arranged for Dawn to go to a school of the arts in New York and stay with her acquaintance, Agnes Morris.
In New York, Dawn was warmly welcomed by Agnes and also met Trisha, who quickly became her best friend. The new chapter of her life in the world of the arts started to help her forget her painful times in the Cutler family. However, the dark chapters of the Cutlers’ family scandals had just begun.
What Happened to Dawn’s Child?
During her time in New York, Dawn unexpectedly crossed paths with Jimmy again. However, Jimmy couldn’t afford to stay in such a big city, so he shared his plan to join the army and suggested reuniting with Dawn after his return if she wanted to. Despite Jimmy’s proposal, Dawn’s life took an unexpected turn when she met the famous singer, Michael Sutton. She fell head over heels for him, but little did she know that Michael was another heartless character in the series who only existed to knock Dawn up and run away.
Later on, while pregnant, Dawn was once again confronted by Lillian, who manipulated her into going to a meadow where Lillian’s two witchcraft-practicing sisters, Emily and Charlotte, lived. Despite Dawn’s attempts to resist, Lillian intimidated her with threats of being left on the streets if she didn’t comply. Dawn reluctantly went to the meadow, and Emily did her best to abort her unborn child. However, to Emily’s dismay, the baby girl was born safely. Yet Emily heartlessly sent the newborn to foster care without informing Dawn, which enraged Dawn and led her to curse Emily for her actions.
After Jimmy’s return from the army, he and Dawn went back to Cutler’s Cove. There, they discovered that Lillian was on her deathbed, breathing her last breaths. Desperate to know where her daughter had been sent, Dawn pressed Lillian for answers, but Lillian kicked the bucket without revealing anything. Fortunately, Dawn’s lawyer managed to locate the foster parents and arrange for Dawn’s daughter’s return to her. With Jimmy’s support, Dawn successfully brought her baby back home and named her Christie.
Did Clara Jean Survive?
The reading of William Cutler’s will revealed a shocking secret that darkened the already turbulent atmosphere within the Cutler family. It turned out that before his death, William had written a will disclosing that he and Laura Jean had a daughter together, who was none other than Dawn, aka Eugenia Cutler. As per the will, Dawn inherited all the remaining property, making her the new owner of the prestigious Cutler’s Cove. This revelation deeply upset Clara Jean, who could never in her life tolerate Dawn and consider her a sister. The situation became even more tragic when Randolph, overwhelmed by pain and trauma, couldn’t bear the truth and committed suicide.
Despite the family’s turmoil, Dawn and Jimmy got married and took care of Christie. However, more secrets came to light when Clara Jean’s parentage was also revealed: she was an illegitimate daughter of the Cutlers, born to Laura Jean’s ex-husband Alcott. Fueled by anger and the desire to claim the Cutlers property, Clara attacked Dawn, who was carrying her second child at the time. Tragically, Dawn lost her baby due to the attack. But in a turn of events, Dawn disclosed the truth about Clara’s parentage, causing her to have a reality check about her lineage. Clara Jean brought a lawyer to challenge Dawn and claim the property she believed to rightfully belonged to her, but upon knowing the truth about Clara’s parentage, the lawyer informed her that he couldn’t help her. Overwhelmed by anger, Clara attacked her lawyer, but instead fell down from a cliff nearby. At the end of V. C. Andrew’s Dawn Episode 3, Clara lost her life.
Meanwhile, Jimmy discovered his long-lost sister, Fern, who had been placed in foster care. Fern escaped and ended up at Cutlers’ Cove, but she was dishonest and a thief, causing tension within the family. Additionally, Dawn was haunted by the ghosts of Lillian and Emily, who whispered bad advice into her ears. Despite this, Dawn recognized them as mere delusions and did her best to dismiss their influence. She learned that Emily had passed away a few months ago, which possibly evoked a sense of guilt in Dawn’s mind as she had cursed her to die before leaving the meadow. However, she eventually moved on, understanding that they were evil influences and no longer a threat. Throughout the challenges they faced, Jimmy and Dawn found happiness in each other’s company and lived happily ever after. Dawn became pregnant once again, and with Jimmy by her side, they looked forward to starting a family of their own once again.
Some dramas are created purely for entertainment purposes, and questioning the logic in their storyline would be futile, just like V. C. Andrew’s Dawn, which lacks any semblance of coherence. The plot is highly unrealistic and disturbing, lacking any clear purpose for being presented in such a manner. Regrettably, the series seems to normalize incestual relationships, and the characters’ moral compass is portrayed in shades of gray, making it difficult to identify any sense of right or wrong. Ultimately, the drama fails to leave any meaningful impact on its viewers, except for disappointment and a feeling of wasting almost five hours on a narrative that doesn’t offer any kind of positive experience.