From an October 2017 New York Times front page exhibit detailing a hideous coercive sex and human branded secret society under the guise of “female empowerment,” the collapse of Seduced Nxivm, an island organization that recruited actors, heiresses and the former first family. has made its way through an endless series of sensational headlines.
The Vow, the HBO series Seduced Nxivm about Nxivm and its vengeful leader, Keith Raniere, extended the straightforward accuracy of the headlines (Sex Cult, Human Mark, Enforced Hunger, Girl Next Door on TV Turned “Slave” Teacher Allison Mack) at nine hours of deeply puzzling context about the human capacity for denial and manipulation.
Seduced: Inside the Nxivm Cult, a four-part Starz docusery by Cecilia Peck and Inbal B Lessner that premiered on Sunday, instead uses the distillation of a word from Nxivm – cult – as an anchor, clarifier rather than a flash signal.
The series’ lead narrator, India Oxenberg, is the daughter of Hollywood and literal royalty (her mother, Catherine Oxenberg, was a star of the 1980s TV show Dynasty and a descendant of British royalty). Her visibility made her a primary target of legitimacy for Raniere, and viewers are likely already familiar with the public version of her story.
At this point, the Nxivm saga and its “master-slave” sub-set DOS (meaning “Dominus Obsequious Sororium”) has leaked through various cultural formats: CBC Radio’s Uncover podcast, a lifetime movie produced by Catherine Oxenberg , a memoir by former trainer turned whistleblower Sarah Edmondson, numerous feature articles, The Vow. Considering all of this and a recently announced second season of the hit HBO series, to cover Raniere’s test in 2019, it seems fair to ask:
What can Seduced Nxivm add?
The answer is, perhaps surprisingly, more information on the simultaneous theme that joining a cult could happen to anyone. Despite its gripping title, Seduced isn’t just a more obscene retelling of The Vow’s unsettling first-person tales of Nxivm’s insidious appeal, the gradual grinding of intuition, and the weapons of doubt.
The two are not so diametrically opposed as curiously complementary; Seduced reverses the psychological incarceration of India Oxenberg by DOS, Raniere, and in particular Mack, the black hole who carries The Vow’s subjects, including Catherine Oxenberg, in a public and judicial campaign against the group, in the narrative spine abuse within a sect.
As The Vow combines shocking details of the group’s abuse with expansive, grinning images of life within Nxivm to humanize the magnetism of a destructive organization, Seduced takes a more clinical approach to why so many have overlooked all red flags. .
The disbelief, shock, and sometimes withholding of accounts from Oxenberg during his seven years at Nxivm (only two years and over 50 hours of therapy taken away, it’s clear he’s still dealing with something really. unfathomable) is combined with ratings from not one, but several cult experts. If you ever had any doubts that the group was cult, or that Raniere was not original in any way, Seduced will dispel them quickly.
Seduced, The Vow, adopted a chronological approach to its subject’s involvement, dissolution, and disillusionment with Nxivm, though it classifies each step according to the studied practices of small coercive groups (Jonestown, The Branchians of Godians, etc.) Throughout history. The isolation, collateral, indoctrination of victims’ guilt, and blind faith in one count are presented as Oxenberg’s watery memories and as clearly identifiable and established sectarian practices.
Although the protagonists of The Vow, married couples Sarah Edmondson and Anthony “Nippy” Ames, and Mark Vicente and Bonnie Piesse, appear as characters in Seduced, and both series share Catherine Oxenberg as the lead narrator, the Starz series also speaks to several women. which occupied the lower echelons of the organization and thus can testify to the daily manipulation of leadership.
The series, Seduced Nxivm in keeping with its relentless clinical approach to classifying Nxivm as a cult, adds more gruesome and irritating details to the already large river that runs through The Vow: How a 15-year-old girl, whose family moved to Albany from Mexico for deepening his involvement in Nxivm, he was confined to a dormitory for two years. How a doctor carried out experiments on women as part of the “Protectors Society “men, photographing their facial expressions as they reacted to horrific images of violence, including dismemberment. How the millionaire Bronfman sisters, heirs to the Seagram liquor fortune, paid the Dalai Lama $ 1 million for honor Albany with their presence and their sparkle of legitimacy.
Oxenberg, now 29, was also an executive producer on the show and seems determined to be known to be more than a sex cult title; His interviews with therapists, lawyers and former members, yet filtered by the presence of a camera, reveal a reconciliation well underway.
The appetite to understand what happened to Nxivm is also growing: Seduced concludes with spooky images on social media of Raniere worshipers, who continue to believe, as they dance outside their prison cell; The last minute of The Vow sparked potential interviews with Raniere and her co-manager Nancy Salzman, and a new trailer for season two, slated for release in 2021, suggests several new interviews with former members of The Vow. Nxivm.
Certainly, for some viewers, the fact that joining a cult can happen to you is enough. But Seduced ultimately advocates giving a woman’s story time, which is already good, in her own words, because it presents a double-edged truth that viewers, on some level, already understand: this ability. self-deception, self-improvement. , belonging and purpose can be unrecognizable, terribly bottomless, and so can our fascination.