Having quarantined myself to the bedroom with a fevered case of gastroenteritis, I took to the TV for a diversion. With ABC’s The Bachelorette on a two-week hiatus, I didn’t have much DVR’d, so I clicked through the OnDemand offerings and came upon a series I hadn’t known existed:
The Girlfriend Experience
It’s a TV series based on Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience,” which focused on the life of a NY call girl. Starz describes the pilot episode as this: Law student Christine Reade lands an internship at a prestigious Chicago firm but when a classmate introduces her to the world of transactional relationships, her focus begins to shift. Known as GFEs, they are women who provide “The Girlfriend Experience” – emotional and sexual relationships at a price. Juggling two lives, Christine is drawn into the GFE world, attracted to the rush of control and intimacy.
So, it’s a series about an escort. Wait. I’ve seen this before. No, that was Secret Diary of a Call Girl(Showtime) and Confessions of a Brazilian Call Girl (Netflix). Secret Diary of a Call Girl never appealed to me. I feel like it was too cheeky, too feather boa thigh-high stockings, too much male fantasy without any realism. The Girlfriend Experience feels more authentic. Ha, as if I’m some industry insider who’d know. But more on point, it’s suspenseful.
Starring Danielle Riley Keough, Elvis Presley’s eldest grandchild, The Girlfriend Experience makes you want to bite your nails. Now, in terms of authenticity, don’t get me wrong, some of it is wildly unrealistic—who gives a Madam full access to her bank account? And why hasn’t the show explained the difference between a man who’d prefer working with a madam/agency versus leaving an agency and agreeing to be poached by a single prostitute? An agency can offer a different courtesan each time, who’s always at the ready, versus working with a girl out on her own who isn’t always ready to be his beckon call-girl. None of this was explored. It was glossed over and confusing.
Having watched 7 episodes so far, I feel like many of the initial storylines were dropped, so I’m wondering if they’ll come full circle. Where, for example, has this classmate Avery gone? She’s in three episodes, then poof? That’s a lot of time investing in a character who just disappears.
Oddly, I’m enjoying the series not for the sex but for the suspense—it’s what makes the series so “obsessable.” You keep watching because you want to know what will happen next. Most interesting are the questions surrounding her work as an intern at a law firm. What will the series explore? Will things get darker? Will she need to up her game and do research with any of her long-term clients, to keep things thrilling—much the way anyone in a long term relationship might? How will things become more complicated? What choices will our girl make? Is she psycho?
It has more of a film feel than TV, which is why I find myself binge-watching it, as if it’s a movie. I keep wondering if our lead is a sociopath, as she questions of herself to her District Attorney sister, Annabel. “Sociopaths don’t wonder if they’re sociopaths,” Annabel responds. But I somehow wonder if that was included to state the central question of the series. Watch The Girlfriend Experience on Starz and tell us what you think!