The moment we heard “sex cult,” “celebrities,” and “Smallville’s Allison Mack” in the same sentence, we knew that whatever it all amounted to would one day be dissected in a multi-episode HBO documentary. Now, nature has delivered us filmmakers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, whom HBO has hired to unspool the story of NXIVM, a professed self-help group for women that’s alleged be both a pyramid scheme and a cult where women were extorted, branded, humiliated, and forced into sexual slavery.
Noujaim and Amer are uniquely suited for the project, and not just because they scored multiple Emmys and an Oscar nomination for 2013's The Square. Noujaim, it turns out, took a NXIVM introductory course roughly a decade ago, probably around the same time as celebrities like Goldie Hawn and Grace Park. While the aforementioned bailed before they could grasp the depth of NXIVM’s grift, others, like Smallville actress Allison Mack and Seagrams heiresses Sara and Clare Bronfman fell fully under the spell of its founder, Keith Raniere. Mack recently pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn federal court to crimes related to her involvement.
In a statement, HBO says the series will follow “a range of people who joined the self-improvement group NXIVM. The organization has been under siege, with charges including sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy brought against its highest members, most notably founder Keith Raniere. The show will take a deep, nuanced look at experiences of its members, spotlighting their universal desire for personal growth.”
No release date has been announced as of now, but if you’re itching for a deep dive into the racket we’d recommend CBC’s Uncover podcast series, “Escaping NXIVM.”