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Netflix Giving Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Lab A TV Show Is Irresponsible -BB

Netflix is giving Gwyneth Paltrow and her infamous lifestyle brand Goop a TV show – called The Goop Lab – but this decision feels wildly irresponsible. Over the past decade, Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow has become primarily defined by two aspects of her career: Playing Pepper Potts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and her wellness company Goop. Originally launched as a weekly newsletter in 2008, Goop has turned into a multi-million dollar empire of new-age advice, lifestyle merchandise, food, and beauty branding, and even an annual celebrity-laden summit.

Despite being the object of ridicule from the moment it was launched, Goop has become arguably the most successful celebrity lifestyle brand of its kind in the 21st century. It’s become such a big deal that Paltrow has announced that she plans to leave acting behind altogether to focus exclusively on Goop. The next part of the company’s expansion, which includes its own magazine and podcast, is a Netflix series. According to Netflix, The Goop Lab will see Paltrow and her team „leading with curiosity“ as they „look at psychedelics, energy work and other challenging wellness topics.“

The Goop Lab’s trailer reveals segments on exorcisms and cryotherapy, and the poster features Paltrow inside a distinctly vaginal arch. It didn’t take long for critics and social media to lambast Paltrow and Netflix for The Goop Lab. It seemed like another win for quackery and easily refuted pseudoscience, all of which certainly doesn’t need any more unchallenged positive publicity in 2020. Netflix knew this show would cause controversy and seem happy to play into it, but that trolling of audiences doesn’t make their decision to commission and air The Goop Lab any less irresponsible.

Goop has been heavily criticized by scientists and doctors from day one. On top of being mocked for its intensely out of touch recommendations to readers, which are typically very expensive and clearly aimed at an elite audience, Goop frequently celebrates ideas and „solutions“ with no scientific basis that may end up being more harmful than helpful. Infamously, Goop has advocated both vaginal steaming and the use of jade eggs for pelvic exercises. For the former, Paltrow suggested that steaming your vagina with infrared heat and various herbs „cleanses your uterus“ and suggested it had „real healing properties.“ The infamous jade eggs were sold as being the secret tools of ancient Chinese concubines and are „used by women to increase sexual energy, health, and pleasure.“ None of these details are true and doing either, according to Dr. Jen Gunter, could seriously damage your genitalia. In September 2018, Goop agreed to pay $145,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that Goop had posted claims about the eggs and about a herbal remedy, both without any sort of scientific basis. That hasn’t stopped The Goop Lab from using vaginal imagery as a key marketing point.

Goop has always been a welcome platform for dangerous claims that are either completely unchallenged by the editorial mandate or gently refuted in a way that shows which side Goop is really on. For instance, an October 2015 blog post resurrected the oft-disproven claim that wearing underwire bras was linked to breast cancer (via HuffPost). In January 2018, Goop welcomed „medical medium“ Anthony William, a man who claims that he has paranormal abilities and uses them to give advice such as how eating celery could help cure everything from ammonia to bladder cancer to infertility. In 2017, Goop sold coffee enemas for $135 to aid „deep detoxification“ without mentioning that using such a „cure“ has previously killed two patients and led to severe internal infections and rectal perforation (via Ars Technica).

This list of quackery barely scratches the surface of Goop’s problems. Indeed, pushing easily refuted nonsense that could seriously damage or kill you is essentially their business model (on top of selling items like “psychic vampire repellent” and a 24-karat vibrator.) It doesn’t matter how many lawsuits they’ve had to settle or how many times they’ve been called out for breaching advertising standards or how many scientists and doctors have torn apart their shoddy claims: It’s the controversy that gets them business.

Pseudo-science has always held a terrifying grip on the public imagination, and it’s not hard to see why so many people would find something like Goop alluring, especially if you’re a woman. Medicine has historic roots in sexism and racism, and to this day, women’s pain and illnesses are frequently misdiagnosed, dismissed (via NY Times), or outright mocked by the medical establishment. This is particularly true for black women, who are more likely to be denied painkillers and to die in childbirth (via BBC). What Goop offers, at least in its most abstract form, is an open-minded and welcoming space for women to feel free to talk about taboo topics, like mental and sexual health, free of judgment and with the promise that there are solutions out there aside from impersonal doctors and sterile waiting rooms.

It’s nonsense, of course, but Goop has harnessed that lie better than anyone else in the business right now, and the more that real doctors and scientists push against them, the more Goop can strengthen their quack claim that they’re the only people out there offering alternative solutions and listening to people. It’s an insidious tactic, but one that has made them rich. Netflix clearly wants in on that controversy. Otherwise, they never would have commissioned a wellness and lifestyle show that, without the name of Goop attached, wouldn’t have much of a built-in audience on the platform. The Goop Lab is largely designed to be hate-watched, and the marketing happily leans into that. Of course, hate-watching still counts for Netflix and it’s as good a business strategy as any for the streaming wars.

Self-awareness of their trolling tactics, however, does not negate the fact that they are still giving a large, valuable, and presumably unchallenged platform to a company that preaches lies and anti-science rhetoric, some of which can literally kill you. The Goop Lab is an extended advert for pseudoscience, gift-wrapped for prestige TV and old as modern female empowerment. In an age of the proliferation of fake news, anti-vaxxers, and major drops in science funding across the board, Netflix letting The Goop Lab brag about its absolute ignorance is a big loss for us all. Of course, that’s what Paltrow and Netflix want.

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