*spoilers – even thought it is just a musing of thoughts it may ruin this for you!*
The Girlfriend Experience could be renamed The Girlfriend Engrossment. It moved far beyond an experience and into a completely immersive viewing event. This show is dark, edgy, thriller-esque and we unfold with Christine. The character evolution is executed brilliantly as we are there for every step of the way which makes for gripping watching. It was an intimate experience which is juxtaposed to the complete lack of emotional intimacy the characters seems to portray.
(Before we jump in I think I should address my slow grow crush on Paul Sparks. He definitely has a pull factor, an aura, just something. Again, another indication of perhaps too much TV watching, I had to quickly adjust my headspace to this new role. I have just finished Season 4 of House of Cards where he plays the wonderful Tom and of course I enjoyed him in Boardwalk Empire. This brilliant performance has just cemented that crush – just what I need, another unattainable character infatuation!? Even if he was a vile in this. Anyway…)
I have been told many times in regards to script writing that we should “show, not tell”. For some time this concept has baffled me. Writing is essentially telling and explaining with words right?!. It wasn’t until this series and the phenomenal writing/EP work of the beyond amazing Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz , that I was able to really grasp this idea. The show is not dialogue heavy. The characters are detached and the show relies on other aspects of the production to highlight this. The key is in the direction, the action and the stunning visuals. It certainly isn’t The Newsroom. A perfect balance of character dialogue, action and all that sex has been successfully achieved. In this aspect, the ‘showing’ far outweighs the telling and is gratuitous in doing so with intent and purpose. Sex is inextricably bound to Christine’s character . It has its own force and weight within the show and is essentially a character.
An element that particularly stayed with me was the wonderful shots. It is visually stunning and of course is an effective device at mirroring the character’s mental health. There is a scene where David has completely hit rock bottom and is ruined. He looks out of the window and it is grey, concrete and no one around, no cars to be seen. It looks like the end of the world outside which is a direct reflection of his world ending.As Christine changes apartments so does the interior decor. There is little to no colour. Monochromatic – black and white. It’s vast, empty, stark and minimalist. It acts as a work office not a house and certainly not a home that is lived in. Just like her work, her apartment is detached, business like and clinical. It momentarily reminded me of aspects of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho and his eerily jarring white apartment. Earlier she comments if she is a sociopath- she definitely sits somewhere on some scale… This scene captured this so profoundly.
The other scene that used the colour and aesthetics was this one:
Void of all emotion this client visit was beautifully shot. It felt like all the human elements and emotions that are involved with sex have been removed. Strip these clients down to their core structure and this is it. We are left with bleakness, a rawness and it is very transactional.
Towards the end of the series Christine is riding in a car wearing a very dark, bold lip. This is probably the first obvious accent of colour that is introduced with her. Her clothes sometimes have colour but they are mostly neutral/black/white/dark blue palette. I found this interesting and suggestive of her complete identify shift. A total embracing.
The microdermabrasion scene was also a great sequence – perhaps indicating that the old Christine has been extracted /removed and that she was completing becoming an escort and another incarnation of one. The dead skin cells are gone so the new can flourish just like she intends to do with being Amanda. The scenes of her body maintenance (hair, skin, waxing etc) are important as they highlight the commitment she is making to her new career. She couldn’t, and more importantly, didn’t want to commit to law school.
It is a very powerful commentary on many deeper topics and especially in regards to women and listening to what they want to do as well as what empowers them . This series turns that paradigm on its head providing a platform to explore these topics. Law isn’t the only industry that entails power, control, status and wealth …! It is a fascinating exploration of a complex female character, one who isn’t in touch with her emotions or emotional at all. The attempts to see Christine connect are fascinating to watch. She still has choices though and it is her choice to actively pursue this lifestyle. I think the topic of choice, empowerment and judgement are huge key themes to this series. To really analyse those psychological elements would be a small thesis!
This series is so impressive and there are many, many more topics and components we could break down and analyse that would cause debate. As a female viewer it was confronting, fascinating, empowering and relentless. If I had to sum up the show in one word it would be impactful. Watch it – and see what journey you go through in each episode.
Powerful and important TV that is engaging and though provoking and performed by an impressive Riley Keough.
We need more of it. I know I crave it. If this show doesn’t blow your mind… it might blow something else – WATCH IT!