HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Girlfriend Experience : Season 1
HTS Overall Score:67
I’ve become very jaded and cynical with adult television over the years. It used to be that I was this way with Broadcast television, but with the advent of mature programming on cable TV there has been an influx of great shows like “Dexter”, “Game of Thrones”, “Justified”, and many others. However there is also the flipside of the coin, where recently the stations have turned the mature cable television landscape into a wasteland as they inundate the screen with anything and everything in hopes of capitalizing on the success of the afore mentioned shows. That means adult cable television has been just as watered down as broadcast TV has been, with the viewer struggling to find a good show amongst a field of drek and boredom. Then there comes a show like “The Girlfriend Experience” that blindsides the viewer. A show that honestly didn’t seem like it would be anything of any interest by the description and was only reviewed because it came in the mail and that’s what I do (and I’m rather glad I did).
What happens when you mix the oldest profession in the world with one of the most hated? And no, I’m not talking about politics. Christine (Riley Keough) is a young, aspiring lawyer who is just starting to make her way in the world as she has been give an internship at one of the most respected law firms under David Tellis (Paul Sparks). She seems to have it all together and with barely a moment to spare, but after her friend and fellow student, Avery (Kate Lyn Shell) tells her about making a TON of money as an escort, she’s intrigued and drawn into the world of the “girlfriend experience”. A World where you’re not some disempowered slave, but rather someone selling to elite clientele the EXPEREINCE of a girlfriend. Meaning you’re not paid for your body but rather paid for the experience of being an intellectually engaging and mentally intimate character who creates the illusion of an actual girlfriend, and what happens, happens.
Of course this lifestyle comes with its own benefits and dangers as well. Christine has to deal with jealous clients, people who have no boundaries and, of course, trying to keep her secret life a secret and maintaining her job as a lawyer as well. Something that ironically seems diametrically opposed to the lifestyle she’s living under the surface. Friends, family, work, it’s all a balancing act that brings her close to the tipping point in more ways than one, and the alluring world of her new found trades adds a sort of empowerment to Riley as she becomes more addicted and more enthralled with the power and adrenaline rush that the job provides her. Something that even life as a high priced lawyer can’t seem to compete with.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=76241[/img]The convergence of the two opposed lifestyles is one of the biggest draws of the series. Both are grueling and mentally tough jobs that require her to be on top of the game. Something that keeps the viewer coming back for more as they’re sitting on the edge of their seats wondering just how to the two lifestyles will intersect. What consequences those encounters will bring, and how Riley will continue to balance the two. Based off the 2007 film of the same name, directed by Steven Soderbergh (and actually executive produced by him as well), “The Girlfriend Experience” is a fascinating show that is more alluring than it is actually entertaining. The twisted concept of the show draws and pulls the viewer in as they’re fascinated by what is unfolding on screen. I know I binge watched the show in two sittings as I couldn’t stop watching.
Now, while there is some nudity and sex, the show is not ABOUT sex, rather it is about the psychological, social and physical effect it has one on specific person (namely Riley). The show flows and adapts itself to the times, as the oldest profession has had to adapt to all of the new laws, mainly surviving in the lurid shadows, or coming out in the open selling itself as an escort who sells her TIME not her body. The dichotomy of industry is completely and utterly fascinating, but what is even more so is the completely different take that happens in the show. Riley is a convoluted and tortured women, both empowered by her actions, but also hampered by the effects it has on her emotionally and psychologically, and that is what the show focuses its attention on.
Still, while I was INCREDIBLY fascinated by the show I must say that there is quite a bit of nudity and sex (considering her profession) and sometimes it pushes the boundaries of taste a bit. Not due to being OVERLY graphic or OVERLY lurid, but more by the fact that it happens EVERY single episode (in fact the nudity is actually rather tame in comparison to many mature cable shows, it's more about the act rather than the amount of skin shown), as such I almost hesitate to give it a blanket recommendation, as not everyone is going to feel comfortable with that. So while I love the show I do have to give this warning out there for viewers as it is most definitely a bit more lurid than your average “Dexter” episode, or “Game of Thrones” where it’s just nudity in a nonsexual way many times
The episode rundown is as follows
Crossing the Line
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=76249[/img]“The Girlfriend Experience” enjoys a very satisfactory encode, but never really shines considering the very soft and diffused style of digital cinematography employed within the show. Fine detail is solid, but never exemplary, and the shooting style keeps the show looking diffused and ever so slightly soft throughout. It almost looks rather dreamlike and gauzy most of the time, although black levels maintain a solid enough structure and there is very little, if any, actual artifacting going on. Just some washed out blacks due to the hazy look. Colors are a bit flat and there seems to be a green filter in place for a lot of the show. It’s a serviceable transfer, and a rather good encode, but the show’s heavily stylized look keeps it from looking as sharp and shiny as many other shows in the same ilk.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=76257[/img]Much like the video, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track is good, but never really GREAT, if you know what I mean. The series is given a 7.1 track, but tends to stick to a very front heavy and reserved tone for the show. Dialog and most of the effects are stuck up in the front three speakers, and doesn’t really branch out from there except for the score (which dose liven up the back channels a bit). There’s some mild ambient noises that will add in some extra channels, such as a door slamming in the background, or the hustle of the city street at times, but the track tends to be very reserved and mild for the most part. The 7.1 experience is effective and clean, showing off very nice fidelity overall, with the only real negatives being the reserved mix for a 7.1 track.
• An Inside Lood
• What Is "The Girlfriend Experience"?
• The Look of "The Girlfriend Experience": Voyeurism Is Here
“The Girlfriend Experience” carries influence from, but also separates itself from the Soderbergh film of the same name, and manages to carve out a very interesting niche in the world of mature cable programming. I was originally very indifferent to the title when I saw it come across my desk, but inexorably drawn into the show when I actually started watching. It’s fascinating, in depth, and asks a lot of questions, while not keeping the focus on the sex itself, but more about how the lifestyle affects one single person’s life. It’s wildly engaging, yet lightly disturbing, and draws interesting parallels between the trade and other aspects of life. While I can’t 100% blanket recommend it to everyone due to the nudity, I will say that I was always engaged and always engrossed in the fascinating series from beginning to end.
Starring: Riley Keough, Paul Sparks, Mary Lynn Rajskub
Created by: Lodge Kerrigan, Amy Seimetz
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Runtime: 359 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
Buy The Girlfriend Experience : Season 1 On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Fascinating, and recommended for the Adventurous
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