I always told people that my mother grew up a bit like a hippie. What I really mean is that she is what many in the New Age community call "seekers" – someone who is looking for answers to the big questions about life and the universe and basically about happiness and our goal in all the addiction. As a child, I was often carried away on many quests. There was a time when I was introduced to Reiki by a boarding school visit. She told my father and me that we would not get up from the dining table until we found out where in our chakras our spiritual blocks were and which crystals we could use to move past them. Then there was a phase with Vedic shlokas, a short break with yoga and a short one with Wicca. I started out on this journey relatively open-minded, but the more I saw her shoot and the older I got, the more I began to look at New Age with skepticism at best and with derision at worst.
Filling a gap?
That doesn't mean that I treat her to something, but you will understand why I have always given Gwyneth Paltrow and her holistic, woman-centered portal, Goop, a wide berth. From detoxifying powders and water bottles soaked in rose quartz to vaginal vaporizers with dubious claims to improve health – many of which have led to medical litigation – Goop is all about improving mental and mental health for a largely female audience by helping with Cash is supplied to find what you are looking for.
And if Goop is the perfect commercialization of the search for meaning in a perfectly curated, buyable form, then the new Netflix documentaries The Goop Labis the ideal look into the goop lifestyle. Here, team members (mostly whites, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone) spend six episodes trying out New Age madness. This includes collecting magic mushrooms in Jamaica to learn more about their place in the universe. The play where the leader of the group communicates without a hint of irony that the locals have used it to heal physical ailments and can't figure out why Westerners just want to take it to get high was my favorite. They try something called "Snowga" and jump in bikinis into the ice-cold Lake Tahoe, attend psychological workshops and find out how old they really are.
I'm not going to lie, the series scared me a bit – seeing it move from one experience to the next in every episode felt a little too familiar – but I can't stop thinking about how much truth there is the phrase, "to everyone their own". It's one I've been thinking about a lot lately, as I've spent months on therapy dealing with the exact issues that I covered in this article. Therapy paid by me, as some call it, for which there are ridiculously high hourly rates. Is that really so different from the activities of Goop members and fans of the lifestyle brand?
Some of Goop's loudest critics point to the fact that the brand encourages and benefits people looking for answers, happiness, balance, whatever you want to call it, selling expensive things. But isn't that also the case with people who go to therapy or go on vacation to relax or spend money on something that is not absolutely necessary? So, should you look at the documentation? For sure. Some of you may want to see it the way you do a safari or reality series: watch others who live their lives so alien that they might as well be a different species. Some of you may want to look at it to find inspiration for things that you can try out in your life as part of your pursuit of mental, mental, or physical wholeness. In either case, it will be either entertaining or informative – and that's good content. And that could be the secret of Paltrow's realm.
The Goop Labs is now streaming on Netflix.