Some celebrities use their platform to champion a cause. Jane Fonda was arrested last week for protesting climate change. Blake Lively has devoted 8 years of her life to making sure nobody else has to marry Ryan Reynolds. And according to 30 Rock, Russell Crowe holds auctions to benefit the victims of his own mood swings. Gwyneth Paltrow meanwhile has chosen to harness the power of her celebrity to spread pseudoscience and sell snake oil on a website named after herself.
Having only managed two episodes of Goop’s Netflix series I didn’t make it as far as Paltrow’s admission of not knowing what the vagina is (despite regularly telling women what to do with theirs) but can confirm that this show is unwatchable, even if you drink every time someone heaps praise on Gwyneth while she sits next to them in silent agreement.
Opening on a disclaimer that the show is “designed to entertain and inform – not provide medical advice,” it quickly becomes apparent that the show is neither rigorous enough to inform nor fun enough to entertain. Episode one sees the Goop staff (who produce levels of irritation one might experience after shoving a jade egg in one’s vagina) fly to Jamaica, a country with one of the highest crime rates in the world, to do some work on themselves.
Here the Goopies (Paltrow doesn’t do any of these excursions by the way) take psilocybin as a form of therapy, and while it’s refreshing to see a positive portrayal of drug experiences, this is negated by the discomfort of watching strangers divulge traumatic personal details. I’m sorry but if I want to watch some rich white people cry I’ll go the My Chemical Romance concert.
In episode two we meet a kind of Nathan For You reject who defies medical science, and I don’t just mean he can stand to be around Gwyneth Paltrow – apparently he never gets sick, thanks to a technique he’s developed to withstand freezing temperatures for some reason. Paltrow thinks he’s been “chosen” to discover this method, because anyone who makes her a profit is apparently a prophet.
Our brave volunteers explain what they want to get out of the session (if only they could), ranging from “I struggle with air conditioning” to “I want to learn how to breathe”, which raises some questions about Paltrow’s hiring policy. Then they do snowga (yoga in the snow, gluh), Paltrow does some push-ups (“She’s so strong – and she’s fasting!”), the snow guy gets out his guitar, and I turn it off.
The Goop Lab has all the warmth of a snowga class and all the self-awareness of a show that markets itself with phrases like “Reach new depths” and “How can we really milk the shit out of this?” It’s cultist propaganda for the terminally self-involved, never considering ways to help other people, focusing solely on Goop’s mantra: Put anything inside you except food. Sorry I mean the other one: Money buys happiness. If that’s true, why does paying for Netflix make me want to kill myself?