Life is short, but ‘Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal’ is worth the commitment

Life is short, but ‘Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal’ is worth the commitment

Less than a year after Hulu’s Ashley Madison documentary, Netflix is making some headway with “Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal,” a three-part British production that has the advantage of feeling like about four documentaries in one. Part business meltdown, part crime mystery, part media critique, and part “Ashley Madison story,” this is a look at a married people’s dating site that’s plenty raunchy and definitely not boring.

Founded on the theory that a surprising number of married people are signing up for the dating site, Ashley Madison (taken from two popular girls’ names) began with the slogan “When monogamy becomes monotony” before its evolution under CEO Noel Biderman to more in- your face , “Life is short. Having an affair.”

However, while the company enjoyed explosive client growth, and Biderman became media bad news by making rounds that subjected him to the righteous ire of TV interviewers (mostly angry), the dirty secret was that Ashley Madison did not take the steps it had promised to protect its data, causing itself was exposed to a 2015 hack that exposed thousands of customers.

“It’s like gambling with people’s lives,” said Evan Back, a sales executive and strategist who was one of the former employees interviewed.

In one respect, director Toby Paton approaches the new docu-series in a way that fits well with the daytime TV mentality that Biderman was successfully exploiting at the time from a marketing point of view, setting aside the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity. for sites that offer the prospect of adulterous relationships become easy.

Therefore, “Ashley Madison” spent a lot of time charting some life stories that fit certain soap operas that were canceled when the hacked information became public, such as the downfall of Sam Rader, a Dallas-area Christian vlogger who had secretly registered , and his wife , Nia.

At the same time, the documents both build a kind of strange tension towards hacking, on various levels, while providing a sharp media breakdown of voyeurism, with a touch of schadenfreude often disguised as journalism that makes this story so interesting.

As a cherry on top, Paton also devotes part of the series to the investigation of hackers, identified as The Impact Team, who do not behave like most corporate hackers in the way they present their claims, leaving lingering questions and speculation about their motives.

Put it all together, and “Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal” lives up to – or maybe better, lives up to – its name. As the ad says, life is short when it comes to doing another docuseries. Still, people will surely be willing to take the leap for a story with such a delicious “There but for the grace of God…” tone.

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