Posted by leeshkay | Published 7 months ago

With 29 ratings

Purchased At: $0.00 with a STARZ trial on Prime Video Channels

"Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult" (2020 release; 4 episodes of about 55 min, each) examines the so-called self-help but in reality cult group NXIVM. As Episode 1 "Hooked" opens, we meet India Oxenberg, as she shows us a house and remarks: "I was the first woman in my group of slaves to be branded in that house." She adds: "I was looking for a purposeful life. What happened vs. what I wanted to believe happened?" We then go back in time, and Catherine Oxenberg, of "Dynasty" fame and India's mother, recalls how in 2011 she was invited to an introductory meeting of something called "Executive Success Program" (ESP), and asked India, then 19 yrs. old, to come along. Much to her surprise, India agrees and then takes an interest in taking more ESP classes. Catherine reluctantly agrees... At this point we are 10 min. into Episode 1.

Couple of comments: this series is directed by film maker Cecilia Peck, daughter of Gregory and and whose prior work includes the Emmy-nominated "Brave Miss World". Here she covers the same territory as the recently concluded 9 part HBO documentary series "The Vow", but with 2 major differences: (i) Peck gets the full cooperation of India Oxenberg (who refused to cooperate with "The Vow" film makers--she is credited as an Executive Producer of "Seduced"), and (ii) Peck skips over a lot of the details of how this self-help group called ESP turned into a cult called NXIVM, and instead zeroes in on what India's personal experiences were in her 7+ years at NXIVM (2011-2018). It's not that one is inherently better or worse than the other. But it's also clear why "Seduced" fits perfectly on the more sensationalist, star-driven STARZ, while "The Vow" premiered on HBO. From my own (subjective) perspective, I appreciated the time (literally: years) and detailed efforts that the makers of "The Vow" took to unearth and bring together all the pieces of a very complicated puzzle.

"Seduced" premiered this weekend on STARZ and is now available on STARZ On Demand and other streaming services. Even though I already know how it all plays out having seen "The Vow", I still plan on watching the remaining 3 episodes of "Seduced". Why? Because you just can't make this stuff up! Facts are always stranger than fiction. If you have any interest in understanding how a cult actually works, or simply are a fan of the Oxenbergs, I'd readily suggest you check this out and draw your own conclusion.

*UPDATE 10/25/20* I just saw Episode 2 "Indoctrination", which in fact is better than the first episode. India Oxenberg revisits the NXIVM ol' stomping grounds in New Albany, and retells in excruciating details of the "Jness" courses, where Keith Ranieri purposefully blurs the lines between rape and consent and claims with a straight face that "a victim complaining is being the abuser". Yea, you read that right. One of the cult experts explains that the indoctrination methods used by NXIVM are in the same vein as those used by ISIS. Wow, just wow. Just watch!

*UPDATE 11/1/20* Episode III "Enslaved" is now in the books, and it is by far the most explicit and gruesome episode to date. India Oxenberg details how she is ordered by her master (Allison Mack) to seduce Keith Ranieri, while along the way India is isolated, degraded and psychologically raped, and also ordered to recruit her own women slaves. There are no words.

- Anonymous

They don't say that until episode 3 and they try to downplay it. She minimizes her behavior but the fact that she abused other women and still paints a picture of herself as a guiltless victim who MAKES MONEY off the experience is sickening. I won't be watching any more of this. She should be prosecuted like Allison Mack. Where was her basic morality? Hiding behind "I thought it was good for me" just does not cut it. Disgusting human being.

- Anonymous

India implores at 5:45, "How could have I ended up in a cult where I was sex trafficked or involved in crimes that could have put me in prison?" I will continue to watch this series to find out how she escapes jail time. This point alone got me hooked as I am also bewildered by all these NXIVM spinoffs and profits made therefrom. Is she collecting cash for this series? If so, do other, less prominent, NXIVM participants (and wounded) get a kick back?

I enjoyed the talking head experts so far yet feel inclined to point out that simply steering folks to "professional therapists" while calling out cult leaders does not encourage critical thinking because I do not believe all professional therapists are necessarily ethical or even that skilled.

After watching all four episodes I guess the best answer as to why India escapes being prosecuted is because she submitted some incriminating flash drives to FBI? These flash drives India "took" (stole) form Allison Mock's apartment when packing up for Allison after Allison was arrested . ( Ironically, taking Allison's flash drives is not unlike a move made by India's very own slave ,Jane Doe #2, when this slave stole the collateral belonging to other slaves before running away from the clutches' of NXIUM. Jane Doe #2 did this with the hopes of having some leverage to oppose a counter move by NXIUM to expose collateral belonging to her.)

India submitted these flash drives late 2018, She was very late in the immunity game. She was very lucky that Jane Doe #2 testimony/charges against her did not stick and other accusations not covered in this documentary. Apparently, India had her very own company (given to her by Keith) called "Delegates". This Albany based company was India's own and it consisted of young people (girls) / illegal immigrants. Mark Vincente gave testimony about this company to the Feds. As I understand, the girls performed gopher like tasks (errands, cooking, cleaning) for the NXIUM community. I guess the age difference between these girls and India was almost ten years. I would say these girls were definitely in a vulnerable position (no parents, no money, no citizenry).

In keeping with this notion being vulnerable but on a different note as it relates to India directly...I felt very uncomfortable with Katherine Orenburg's decision to set up an invention for India with a gynecologist. To me that seemed to border on another form of sexual/psychological abuse for India. I understand her mother was desperate, but I wanted to yell ,"Don't set up a doctor meant to check your daughters intimate health to coach her out of being in a sex cult."

All told, for me I do not believe I grew to understand much about cults after watching this entire documentary other than a few basics ideas. I feel what I did learn was what it was like to be at odds with a parent and likewise what it felt like to be on the run from the law or the media. Her emotions expressed were palatable.

I kind of think that this documentary ran short on education because she was very short on her own involvement in the context of criminal behavior. If I could wish a future for India I would wish her NOT to be a spokesperson for educating the public about cults or seeking to change legislation. Ethically, I don't believe she should be a spokesperson because of her alleged criminal behavior. The light she shares I believe is thwarted by her guilt. Perhaps in time, if she becomes stronger she will have something more to say about this experience. NXIUM just did not punish people into compliance the organization also held out carrots. These carrots sometimes came in the form of money or some future knowledge or whatever. For now, I don't trust her or this documentary as little more than a money making manipulation to clear her reputation. But I will say this documentary is well put together ,interesting, and clear in its message, however valuable you believe this message to be. For these reasons I give it 5 stars.

- Anonymous

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