Parents' Guide to

The Way Down

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Weight-loss church docuseries has mature themes, cursing.

TV Max Reality TV 2021
The Way Down Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 1 parent review

age 16+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

The unsettling docuseries chronicles how the late pastor and diet guru created a controversial ministry that combines biblical teachings with common-sense diet tips to build power and wealth. The Way Down discusses the way Gwen Shamblin, many of whom within the church referred to as a prophet, equated being thin with spiritual perfection, and rejected scientific explanations for weight gain in order to exploit her followers' fundamental religious beliefs for her own gains. It also explains how she preached her own version of Christianity, which rejects the foundational tenets for most Christian faiths, but created a place for her as a matriarch in a religious world led by men. But much of the series focuses on some of the many controversies that followed her and her husband, actor Joe Lara, until their deaths (the two died in a plane crash in May 2021), and details disturbing activities within the organization. It's subjective, and active members of the church are not interviewed (despite the efforts of producers). Nonetheless, The Way Down tells an intriguing story that shows how people's religious beliefs and personal vulnerabilities can be exploited in unexpected, consequential ways.

TV Details

  • Premiere date: September 30, 2021
  • Cast: Gwen Shamblin
  • Network: Max
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Last updated: February 28, 2022

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