The Girlfriend Experience (TV series)
|The Girlfriend Experience|
Season 1 poster
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||27 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||27–31 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Transactional Pictures|
|Original release||April 10, 2016 –|
The Girlfriend Experience is an American anthology drama television series created, written, and directed by Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz and airing on the premium cable network Starz. The first season stars Riley Keough as Christine Reade, a law student intern who also works as a high-end escort. Executive produced by Steven Soderbergh, it is based on the 2009 film of the same name. A 13-episode first season premiered on April 10, 2016, and all episodes were made available on Starz On Demand.
On August 1, 2016, Starz renewed the series for a 14-episode second season, focusing on new characters and storylines, with Seimetz and Kerrigan returning. The second season premiered on November 5, 2017.
Second-year Chicago-Burnham Law School student Christine Reade (Riley Keough) lands an internship at the law firm of Kirkland & Allen and struggles to balance her workload, expenses and classes. When her close friend Avery (Kate Lyn Sheil) reveals that she has been working as an escort, she encourages Christine to tag along and introduces her to a friend of one of her clients, who is looking for an escort. Under the pseudonym "Chelsea Rayne", Christine works as a high-end escort specializing in providing "the girlfriend experience" (GFE), an array of sexual and other associated services intended to make the client feel both sexually and emotionally satisfied. Initially working for Avery's madam Jacqueline (Alexandra Castillo), Christine eventually strikes out on her own, experiencing pitfalls along the way as clients cross boundaries and she discovers corruption at Kirkland & Allen.
Season 2: Erica & Anna/Bria
The second season features two parallel storylines. One storyline, set in Washington, D.C., takes place during the upcoming U.S. midterm elections and follows Erica Myles (Anna Friel), a finance director of a Republican super PAC, and Anna Garner (Louisa Krause), a GFE provider. Under intense pressure to deliver on her fundraising goals, Erica enlists Anna's help in blackmailing a high-powered dark money fundraiser. In the other storyline, set in New Mexico, it follows Bria Jones (Carmen Ejogo), a former high-end escort who enters the Witness Protection Program with her estranged thirteen-year-old step-daughter (Morgana Davies) to escape an abusive relationship. However, she revives her career as an escort, which threatens Bria's new identity and well-being of her step-daughter and the U.S. Marshal (Tunde Adebimpe) put in charge of her.
Cast and characters
Season 2: Erica & Anna
Season 2: Bria
- Carmen Ejogo as Bria Jones/Sarah Day
- Tunde Adebimpe as Ian Olsen
- Harmony Korine as Paul
- Morgana Davies as Kayla Fairchild
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||April 10, 2016||June 19, 2016|
|2||14||November 5, 2017||December 24, 2017|
Season 1 (2016)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||1||"Entry"||Amy Seimetz||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||April 10, 2016||0.363|
|Law student Christine Reade gets an internship at the law firm of Kirkland & Allen. She is introduced to the world of transactional relationships by her classmate Avery, who works as a high-end escort. She is invited by Avery to go out for drinks with one of her clients, Garrett, and his friend Martin. She accepts money in an envelope from Martin via Avery.|
|2||2||"A Friend"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||April 10, 2016||0.334|
|Christine provides her first girlfriend experience with Martin. She is introduced to Jacqueline, the woman who runs the escort service and who will book her clients, and receive a 30% fee in exchange. Christine is set up with two new clients, Ryan and Michael. Avery moves in with Christine in her new apartment when her relationship with Garrett ends, as she had previously been living in one of his expensive homes. Later at night, Christine and Avery kiss and have a sexual encounter.|
|3||3||"Retention"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||April 17, 2016||0.268|
|Christine continues to see her various clients, including Martin, Ryan, and Michael. She later meets a new client, Kevin, who is more on the nervous and sensitive side. Avery tells Christine that she has dropped out of school and believes Jacqueline is ignoring her. Christine meets with Jacqueline to talk about Avery, and Jacqueline warns her that Avery is an erratic and unreliable person. When Avery tells Christine that Jacqueline has cleared out her (Avery's) bank account (which Jacqueline had access to), Christine angrily confronts Jacqueline. Christine later comes home to find that Avery has left and stolen from her safety deposit box. Christine talks with her clients about the possibility of leaving Jacqueline. At the office, Christine receives an envelope containing photos of herself that were taken for her escort work, including photos showing her face, which worries her. David and Erin try to win back their biggest client, XHP, by talking with XHP executive Emery Wright.|
|4||4||"Crossing the Line"||Amy Seimetz||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||April 24, 2016||0.262|
|Kevin, one of Christine's clients, puts her in an uncomfortable position when he asks if she could lower her rate because he's having a hard time paying to see her. She later cuts him off as a client as she can't make exceptions. Ryan's wife discovers he is seeing Christine (after they are spotted together by one of Ryan's friends and his wife), and she offers her $20,000 to stay away. They later meet and Christine accepts the money. Christine gets together with her older sister Annabel who is visiting. Christine admits to her sister that she simply "doesn't like people" and asks her if she's abnormally selfish or a sociopath. Christine attends an office party at David's house. Kirkland & Allen retain XHP as a client after it's later revealed that Erin is sleeping with Emery and is now the lead on the case. Christine and David go out for drinks and they later end up at his apartment (he reveals he's having marital problems). Eventually it leads to them having sex and she spends the night.|
|5||5||"Insurance"||Amy Seimetz||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||May 1, 2016||0.163|
|Christine goes out with Michael on his yacht. Later, she learns he has died and left her $500,000 from his will. To claim the money, she must prove to be "Chelsea Rayne" (the name the money was willed to), however it would expose her life as an escort. Christine sees two new clients, a married couple, but she is too distraught over Michael's death and too drunk to satisfy them. Christine and David continue their affair. In the morning, after David leaves his apartment, Christine notices Ben Holgrem, the opposing counsel on the case, return some files. Christine and Erin go out to lunch, and Erin seems to be aware of her affair with David. Christine asks Martin for legal advice about how to handle the situation with the will. David is promoted to managing partner and Christine is reassigned to a different lawyer. Feeling suspicious of David, Christine convinces him to have sex with her one more time. In his apartment, she overhears a conversation he is having with Ben, in which he promises the case will never go to trial. She and David later have sex and she leads him into saying incriminating things such as "then I'll have to fire you" in response to them not having sex. It's later revealed that Christine has recorded the phone conversation and them having sex.|
|6||6||"Boundaries"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||May 8, 2016||0.196|
|Michael's family is willing to expose him and Christine's escort work in an attempt to get her to stop pursuing the money from Michael's will. Christine sees a new client, Jack, but he continually pushes personal boundaries around her and is jealous when he sees her with other men. Christine goes out on a double date with Jack, pretending to be his girlfriend, at a dinner party with a couple who are Jack's friends. At work, Christine learns her access to David's computer files on XHP has been revoked. Jack scares Christine when he sneaks up behind her in a pool and pulls her under the water; she angrily tells him "don't ever do that again". Jack surprises Christine by giving her a key to a home he just bought. The next morning, Christine leaves their hotel room, but returns when she realizes she doesn't have her phone. She retrieves it but feels suspicious of Jack. At the office, Christine asks Erin if she can join the XHP case. After Christine sees Jack another time, he calls her, but she had never given him her number. He repeatedly calls again while she is at work, and she forcefully tells him she doesn't want him in her life.|
|7||7||"Access"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||May 15, 2016||0.222|
|Upon returning to her apartment, Christine receives flowers and a note from Jack, given to her by the doorman. She has the doorman escort her to her apartment as she checks her apartment. The next day she has a video recording system installed. Christine meets a new client, Alex, in a restaurant. As they have sex in a hotel room, a man in a separate building takes photos of them. The man follows Alex to his home and introduces himself as a private investigator. He blackmails Alex into setting up a meeting with Christine. At work, Christine gains access to the computer files by getting a password from Kayla, a fellow intern, and learns that some of the files are missing. Christine meets with the private investigator, Simon Burcher, in a hotel room where he poses as a new client. She begins to feel uneasy and suspicious of his actions, so she excuses herself and gives him back his money. Simon recorded their conversations; however, nothing incriminating is said by Christine. Simon later speaks with Jacqueline on the phone; she had given up information on Christine. When leaving work, Christine is approached by Simon, who reveals who he is. Simon tells Christine he will expose her if she tries to claim the money from Michael's will.|
|8||8||"Provocation"||Amy Seimetz||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||May 22, 2016||0.226|
|Christine signs away her claim to the money, but if the family exposes her profession, she will receive the money as they would violate a gag order obtained by Martin. At law school, Christine's professor is worried about her number of absences. When walking to her car, Christine is approached by Jack, but she drives off pretending not to know him. Christine meets with Anna, one of Jack's friends whom they went on the double date with, and expresses her fear of Jack and that they have "broken up". Christine is in the process of meeting a new client at a restaurant, but she is spotted by David who is meeting with Ben. Christine then cancels the date and leaves. At the office, Kayla tells Christine to stop using her password as she doesn't want to get into trouble. Christine reveals to Erin that David is intentionally throwing the XHP case and provides the voice recording; however, it's later revealed that Erin is in on it and informs David and Ben. The next day at the office, Christine continually gets calls from Jack and she hangs up every time. David receives an email (sent from Christine's account) of her and Jack having sex, potentially exposing her as an escort.|
|9||9||"Blindsided"||Amy Seimetz||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||May 29, 2016||0.161|
|The video of Christine has been emailed to the entire office as well as to her family. David calls Christine into his office to discuss what has happened. She insists she didn't send the video. David tells her to delete all communications she has ever had with him as he doesn't want to be associated with her. Christine begins recording every conversation she has in the office, including the one she just had with David, and of male co-workers making innuendo-laden comments around her. Christine is eventually fired and breaks down at her desk, crying and breathing very rapidly.|
|10||10||"Available"||Lodge Kerrigan||Amy Seimetz||June 5, 2016||0.177|
|After being treated by paramedics, Christine is taken home by Kayla. Christine advertises herself on an escort website under the name "Amanda Hayes". She travels to Toronto to see new clients. She sees a client named Dennis, but once they finish having sex, he tells her to leave. She then sees Gary, who already has two escorts at his home. He snorts cocaine, and offers her more money to stay longer. There, she spends most of her time talking with Monica, another escort. The next day, Christine and Monica go on a double date with two new clients; Christine and Monica talk about the escort business. Christine gets a phone call from Martin, who tells her the sex tape has been leaked online.|
|11||11||"Fabrication"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||June 12, 2016||0.248|
|Christine returns to Chicago. She continues to see Dennis via webcam. Christine meets with Martin and shows him the voice recordings from the office and the video of her and David having sex; she plans on suing Kirkland & Allen for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Martin and Christine come up with a strategy that the video was leaked by an angry ex-boyfriend and they were role-playing and denies she's an escort. David is fired from Kirkland & Allen when they discover the video of him and Christine having sex. Erin takes David's position as managing partner at the firm. Kirkland & Allen settles with Christine, paying her $1 million. Christine buys a luxurious new apartment. David interviews for a new job at a law firm. Christine meets David for lunch and they have a heated exchange with David calling her a whore. She throws a glass of water on him and leaves.|
|12||12||"Home"||Amy Seimetz||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||June 19, 2016||0.180|
|David tries to make amends with his wife and repair their marriage. Late at night, David sits at his computer watching Christine's sex tape. Christine goes home for her parents' 30th anniversary party. Due to the sex tape, her family is fairly awkward around her, especially her sister and mother. After the party, back at home, Christine's mother shares her disappointment. In the morning, Christine leaves early as she can't be around her mother. Christine's father drives her to the airport. Back at home, Christine's father believes the video was sent by an ex-boyfriend, while her mother disagrees, saying Christine has always been selfish and wanted attention. Back in Chicago, Christine continues her escort work and has a photo shoot done.|
|13||13||"Separation"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz||June 19, 2016||0.209|
|Christine, now in the upper echelon of the high-end escort business, perfects her look by getting waxed, chemical peels and her hair done. She also has a chauffeur and begins to learn French. Christine has lunch with her sister where she reveals she's done with law school. Annabel, in disbelief, asks her if she's going to be an escort for the rest of her life, but Christine doesn't answer. Later, Christine performs an elaborate cuckold role-play with a male escort for a new client. After the role-play is over, Christine lies by herself masturbating.|
Season 2: Erica & Anna/Bria (2017)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|14||1||"Leverage"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan||November 5, 2017||0.402|
|Erica Myles, the finance director at a Republican super PAC enlists the help of an escort, Anna Garner, in an attempt to gain access to a secret, dark money donor network. Erica pays Anna to continue to record phone conversations that her client, Mark Novak is having, hoping to use them to discredit him. Anna, along with one of her former escort friends, meets with Mark for a threesome. There Anna secretly records him receiving oral sex from her escort friend.|
|15||2||"Admitting"||Amy Seimetz||Amy Seimetz||November 5, 2017||0.336|
|Bria, a former escort, is entered into WITSEC to escape an abusive relationship. She and her estranged step-daughter Kayla are relocated to a small town in New Mexico where they are guarded by U.S. Marshal Ian Olsen, who aids them in their transition to a new life. Bria gets an assembly line job, but she quickly reenters the world of escorting.|
|16||3||"Eggshells"||Amy Seimetz||Amy Seimetz||November 12, 2017||0.346|
|Bria meets with her first new client, Paul, but he wants to take things slow and they don't have sex in their first meeting. While talking, Bria reveals she has a step-daughter. Agent Olsen is suspicious of Bria and confronts her when she returns home late at night. Bria begins to seduce him, but he stops it, and accuses her of trying to manipulate him. Later, Paul calls Bria and tells her he wants to take her and Kayla out for a "family day".|
|17||4||"The List"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan||November 12, 2017||0.325|
|Erica pays Anna $50,000 for the sex tape of Novak. Erica then uses the tape to blackmail Novak in exchange for his organization's donor list. Erica sees Anna as a client and asks her about her life as an escort. Erica pursues a romantic relationship with Anna and asks her to accompany her to New York for a business trip. They both go to a billionaire political donor's private event.|
|18||5||"Solicitation"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan||November 19, 2017||0.269|
|Novak and his associate hire private investigators to dig up information on Erica and Anna. Erica gets a visit from her ex-girlfriend Darya. Erica and Anna continue their sexual relationship. The PI uncovers evidence that Erica's assistant Sandra had forged references and lied on her resume. The man confronts Sandra in a coffee shop and offers her a deal.|
|19||6||"Negotiation"||Amy Seimetz||Amy Seimetz||November 19, 2017||0.243|
|Bria begins to take on new clients. Bria, Kayla, and Paul go for a picnic and Paul gives them both gifts. Bria pawns the bracelet for money so she can buy a vehicle, while Kayla uses the tablet to discover the serious crimes her father has been charged with. Paul continues to spoil them with gifts and cooks them dinner, but Kayla shows her disinterest. Bria begins her pre-trial preparations where she confirms her ex was an international meth and arms dealer.|
|20||7||"Moral Inventory"||Amy Seimetz||Amy Seimetz||November 26, 2017||0.211|
|Primarily told from Agent Olsen's point-of-view, it reveals that he has put listening devices in Bria's apartment and has been spying on her the whole time, including witnessing her having sex with a client in a parking lot. Olsen becomes sexually fixated on Bria and later coerces her into sex after he confronts her about returning to escorting. After having sex with Bria, Olsen returns home, where it is revealed that he lives with a girlfriend. Paul becomes more controlling in his relationship with Bria. Later, Bria learns that her ex-husband Donald Fairchild is out on bail.|
|21||8||"Donors"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan||November 26, 2017||0.229|
|Erica resumes her relationship with Darya. Erica is offered $25 million in dark money from an ambitious and corrupt billionaire financier. Erica begins acting cold and distant to Anna and Erica hires her and a male escort to have sex in front of her. Anna asks Erica to have a child with her and she agrees. Later, Anna has sex with a male client without a condom.|
|22||9||"Family"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan||December 3, 2017||0.297|
|Erica accepts the $25 million from the billionaire financier. Anna reveals to Erica that she is three weeks pregnant with a client's child and she wants her and Erica to be a family. In response, Erica coldly ends their relationship. Anna then has an emotional breakdown and tries to reconnect with Erica, but she learns that Erica is with Darya. Later, Anna has an abortion. Erica learns from the media that the Democratic politicians were alleging that the donation was a payoff to stop a criminal investigation.|
|23||10||"Living Like a Tornado"||Amy Seimetz||Amy Seimetz||December 3, 2017||0.226|
|Bria reveals the truth to Paul that she is in WITSEC and about her past. She fears for herself and Kayla and asks to move in with Paul to keep themselves safe. Bria expresses her concerns to Agent Olsen about her ex-husband. Olsen drives Bria to work and Kayla to school, but Bria has quit her job and Kayla is skipping school to hang out with some friends. After Bria learns that strangers were watching her house at night, she begs Paul to take her in, but he refuses. Kayla and her friend Kyle discover one of the listening devices in the apartment, and when Bria arrives home, they all flee in Kyle's car. Bria then purchases a sports rifle and drives to Paul's home where she sees him with a woman and her two children. Bria's not upset about him with another woman, but fearing for her safety; she shoots at Paul's car in order to get him to call the police.|
|24||11||"Making Amends"||Amy Seimetz||Amy Seimetz||December 17, 2017||0.198|
|Bria and Kayla are arrested, but Agent Olsen intervenes and takes Bria with him. While in custody, Kayla is told that her father has set up a trust in her name that is controlled by Bria until she turns 18. The FBI believe this is why Bria brought her along into WITSEC and ask if Bria has threatened her, which Kayla denies. Bria expresses to Olsen that she wants to run away with him. Olsen takes Bria to her ex-husband's arraignment. While up on the stand and in front of her ex-husband, Bria becomes physically ill and asks to be excused. After going to the restroom, she rushes out of the building and gets into a taxi and it drives off. Throughout the episode flashbacks detail Sarah's (now Bria) life as the wife of a gangster.|
|25||12||"Citizens First"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan||December 17, 2017||0.195|
|Anna meets with Darya and learns that she does not love Erica anymore and finds her too dependent. Darya tells Erica that she met with Anna and deceitfully tells her that she had sex with Anna. Darya then breaks up with Erica, leaving Erica emotionally broken. Erica begins drinking and misses work. Sandra goes to Erica's apartment and finds her drunk and helps her sober up. When Sandra finds evidence that links the SuperPAC to illegal Canadian dark money, Erica tells her to delete the evidence, but Sandra copies the files for her blackmailer.|
|26||13||"Free Fall"||Lodge Kerrigan||Lodge Kerrigan||December 24, 2017||0.176|
|Sandra gives her blackmailer the incriminating evidence regarding Erica. The FBI begin to look into Erica's financial dealings after being tipped off by Mark Novak. Erica begs Anna to come back to her, and after some hesitation, she does. Erica is fired by the head of the SuperPAC after Sandra exposes her behavior. Erica is also dumped by Anna, who calls her weak. Erica has a meeting with the FBI and denies any involvement, but they play her an incriminating conversation that she had with Sandra that Sandra had secretly recorded. Erica excuses herself to the washroom and then takes a taxi. Anna sees a new client. Erica goes to an empty conventional space where she lies down and sobs.|
|27||14||"Relapse"||Amy Seimetz||Amy Seimetz||December 24, 2017||0.176|
|Bria, with the help of her neighbor, breaks into her locked apartment and collects her belongings and money. She then sets up a date with a repeat client, Stuart. After unsuccessfully trying to have sex in his car, she suggests they go to a state park (where she previously went with Paul). On the way there, she buys another sports rifle. At the park, she practices shooting at a group of flowers. Bria notices a car approaching, which turns out to be Agent Olsen. She wounds him in the leg with her rifle. She walks up to Olsen and grabs his gun just as her ex-husband Donald and his associate arrive and she promptly shoots and kills both of them. She then stages the scene to look like Olsen killed the two men while protecting her. She walks off and washes the blood off her in a nearby lake.|
In June 2014, the series was greenlit by Starz, with a 13-episode order with the series being based upon The Girlfriend Experience which was directed by Steven Soderbergh who also serves as an executive producer on the series, while Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz, wrote and directed all 13 episodes and also serve as executive producers. In September 2014, Riley Keough was cast as the female lead. Shane Carruth composed the musical score for the series. Principal photography took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
In January 2017, it was announced that Louisa Krause, Anna Friel and Carmen Ejogo were cast as the three female leads of season 2. The second season features two parallel storylines, with Kerrigan and Seimetz each writing and directing their own storyline. In March, Narges Rashidi joined the cast of the series. Although there is no crossover between the storylines and Kerrigan and Seimetz worked independently, they did read each other's scripts. In an interview with Variety, Kerrigan said: "We respected each other’s work, and I think we have mutual respect as filmmakers, so we read each other’s scripts and watched each other’s episodes, but really, we just did our own thing."
In September 2017, Kerrigan and Seimetz indicated that they would not return for a third season.
The first season of The Girlfriend Experience received positive reviews from critics, earning a rating of 85% with an average score of 8.55 out of 10, based on 40 reviews, on the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. The site's critical consensus reads: "The darkly fascinating (and utterly bingeworthy) The Girlfriend Experience powers past any shortcomings with a breakout performance by Riley Keough." Metacritic provides a score of 78 out of 100 from 27 critics, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Matt Zoller Seitz, reviewing for Vulture, gave top praises to the series, stating that "The Girlfriend Experience is actually four or five shows rolled into one, and a big part of its specialness resides in those moments where it morphs from one thing into another", as well as giving high praise especially to the season finale: "[It] is the most daring, dense, allusive, and multilayered single episode of TV I’ve seen since the finale of season three of Louie".
The second season received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 78% rating with an average score of 9.44 out of 10 based on 18 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Girlfriend Experience reinvents itself from a character study into an ensemble piece, thoughtfully unpacking thorny aspects of sexuality and providing rigorous programming for viewers who want to be both challenged and titillated". On Metacritic, it has a score of 72 out of 100 based on 6 reviews. Writing for Collider, Chris Cabin gave it a four star review and wrote that it's "one of the greatest seasons of television that 2017 has produced thus far." Writing for Variety, Sonia Saraiya felt that while the second season was "still directed and produced beautifully, with a soundscape so precise and intimate that it is haunting and immersive in a way little else on television can even approach", sex work and "even the sex worker herself" had become "secondary to the aims of the filmmaker", particularly in Erica & Anna, but that both storylines had fine qualities: "'Bria' is cinematically stunning, with a few sequences that are going to be hard to forget anytime soon. 'Erica & Anna' is a much more straightforward story, with a chilly aesthetic that makes 'House of Cards' look upbeat. But the relative opacity of 'Bria’s story' beats — and the oddly pat metaphors of 'Erica & Anna' — left me with the wish that these two well-matched directors might, you know, collaborate."
Amazon Video acquired rights to the series for the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and Japan, with the series premiering on June 27, 2016, excluding Japan. The first season was released on Blu-ray and DVD in region 1 on August 2, 2016.
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