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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The most positive, empowering episode of the bunch is the third, which is focused on women's sexual health. Overall, however, the show claims to be about living life to the fullest -- yet many of the remedies they promote (especially in episode 4, "The Health Span Plan") seem more centered on physical beauty and a fear of aging than on self-acceptance and overall quality of life.
Positive Role Models
Once again, the show gets points purely for including the work of 90-year old sex educator and coach Betty Dodson, who works to empower women to understand and take control of their own pleasure. The show loses points for highlighting, without scrutiny or balance, the work of mediums and "energy healers", including one "wellness expert" -- Wim Hof, who believes his breathing techniques can help reverse psychological conditions and, troublingly, bacterial infections -- whose methods have been implicated in actual deaths.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
An episode focuses on the female orgasm and sexual health, and features full nudity, a montage of vulva photos, as well as footage of a woman demonstrating a sex coach's "rock and roll" masturbation technique. The way this is all presented is educational and not exploitative, but parents may still wish to pre-screen the content.
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Profanity is frequent, mainly "s--t" and "f--k".
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Products & Purchases
While there are no outright calls to purchase anything, one cannot ignore the fact that Goop as a company is first and foremost an aspirational lifestyle brand -- one that sells detox kits, dubious supplements, $74 bottles of olive oil and $600 sweaters. The series highlights facial treatments and restrictive eating plans poised to make viewers to ask where to purchase these kits and items.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An entire episode focuses on the use of psychedelics in treating psychological conditions. Goop staffers are shown drinking mushroom tea and getting high.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Goop Lab features frank discussion on a variety of "wellness" topics, including female sexuality. The third episode, "The Pleasure is Ours," features graphic talk of vibrators and intercourse, anatomical exploration that includes full-color, close-up photos of women's vulvas, and footage of a woman masturbating to orgasm. Episode one, "The Healing Trip," discusses and shows the use of "magic mushrooms" and MDMA to treat various psychological issues. The show could also be accused of promoting disordered eating, as it touts punishing diets and fasting as a way to achieve health and longevity. Parents and teens who watch can discuss this issue as well as the ultimate goals of the wellness industry and why people choose to try unproven methods for their health.
Is It Any Good?
Though presented as a tribute to curiosity and exploration, the absence of critical thinking and balance means that at its heart the series is little more than aspirational lifestyle sponcon. It's one thing to talk about offbeat cures and alternative medicine -- most doctors agree that the mind-body connection is real. It's another thing entirely when a media personality like Paltrow presents theories and methods on a huge platform like The Goop Lab without scrutiny, without bringing in doctors and scientists who may have differing points of view, in order to provide a clearer and more accurate picture. In episodes like "Are You Intuit?" (which centers on the idea of psychic mediums talking to the dead) and "The Energy Experience" (in which celebrity "energy healer" John Amaral waves his hands over clients in an effort to heal their bodies and minds), we are presented with some pretty out-there claims that aren't challenged or investigated in any concrete way. When the people being subjected to these cure-alls are paid Goop staffers, how confident can we be that anyone is truthfully expressing their opinion?
That said, the series is not without its high points. In particular, the third episode ("The Pleasure is Ours") featuring longtime sex educator Betty Dodson is a graphic, groundbreaking look at female sexual health that may be eye-opening and healing for many viewers. It could go a long way toward destigmatizing the discussion around women's sexuality and empowering women to increase their bodily self-awareness. It's a lesson Paltrow herself apparently needed, as she proclaims in the episode not to have realized there is a difference between the vagina and the vulva. And therein lies The Goop Lab rub: the same wealthy, beautiful celebrity who sold her fans on the health benefits of putting jade "eggs" in their vaginas (a move that cost the company $145,000 when they were sued over making these false claims) reveals herself to be wholly unqualified to be sharing this kind of advice. Her show's not the worst thing in the world, so long as viewers realize there's a difference between anecdotal evidence and scientific proof, heeding the disclaimer that prefaces each episode: "The following series is designed to entertain and inform -- not provide medical advice."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.