It is Safe for Their Work

Netflix’s new documentary series comes with controversy

By Bailey Mount Managing Editor

In its latest streaming endeavor, Netflix released “Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On,” a documentary series that attempts to address the intricacies of the pornography industry through personal anecdotes. At best, the effort is clumsy. At worst, it is exploitative and inaccurate.

Based on the 2015 documentary, “Hot Girls Wanted,” which featured how young women were drawn into the porn industry by purported talent agents, the series takes on a similar humanizing stance in its presentation. Performers are presented as going about their everyday lives. They exercise. They go on dates. Later, a lot of them spank themselves or each other on camera for money.

It’s a heavy subject matter to tackle in only six episodes and “Turned On” would have fared better if it had chosen something specific. The problem begins with something the creators could have picked up from interviewing their subjects — how to sell their content.

“Turned On” erroneously marketing itself as collected personal stories on “how the intersection of sex, technology and intimate relationships is rewiring us in fundamental ways.”

Only one episode out of the six, “Love Me Tinder,” addresses this summary. The rest feature cam girls, porn directors, writers, producers and recruiters.

The final episode, “Don’t Stop Filming” addresses a case in which a girl livestreamed the rape of her friend on Periscope. It’s a jarring contrast from the rest of the series and is completely out of place.

“Turned On” is tonally inconsistent. As the series progresses, the subject matter becomes so dark that it’s hard to remember what it’s supposed to be about. Other times, it feels more like a reality show than a supposed innovative glimpse into the sex industry. The people feel like characters.

Despite this, “Turned On” succeeded in garnering controversy — though not for its subject matter. Since its Apr. 21 release, the show has come under heavy criticism due to multiple allegations by some of the featured porn performers, who claim that the producers of the show obtained their anecdotes under false pretenses.

Actors Gia Paige and Tyler Knight accused “Turned On” creators of tricking them to use their testimonies. Paige went a step further, alleging that the creators purposefully revealed her birth name.

Aesthetically, the series is well produced. The lighting, music and material are used to make a prettily packaged product — but the substance is lacking. What viewers are left with is an entertaining, but aimless series.

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