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"After watching the trailer I think we can agree Gwyneth Paltrow's Netflix show The Goop Lab shouldn't exist."

It’s not something I’d want mentioned on my tombstone, but I often find myself defending a woman by the name of Gwyneth Paltrow.

The 47-year-old actress turned business owner is more often than not involved in a firestorm of controversy, the very definition of a ‘polarising women’. Yet sometimes the accusations hurled at her are completely unfounded.

When people slam her for not remembering which Marvel movies she’s in, I remind them that her few scenes are filmed years in advance, out of order and not with all cast members in the room due to the special effects used.

When she was mocked for announcing that she and ex-husband Chris Martin had decided to ‘consciously uncouple’, I argued that there was no harm in a practice that was utilised in order to protect kids from the trauma of a family breaking up.

And when people question how she really utilises parts of her fame, I find the need to highlight the part she played in the Me Too movement as one of the first women to go on the record about having been harassed by Harvey Weinstein.

But when I heard that Netflix had greenlit a series based on her successful yet controversial company Goop, there was not a word of defence I could muster up, because if there is anything our world is not crying out for right now, it’s another platform to promote dangerous health practices and pseudoscience.

Take a look at the trailer for The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow on Netflix. Post continues after. 

The six-part series, entitled The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow, will premiere on January 24 and in the first trailer for the show both Paltrow and Goop’s chief content officer Elise Loehnen wax lyrical about the boundary-pushing nature of their new health-focused series.

In the words of Netflix, the series is all about “leading with curiosity and keeping it real, Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop team look at psychedelics, energy work and other challenging wellness topics.”

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“What we try to do at Goop is explore ideas that may seem out there or too scary,” Loehnen said in the trailer, while the rest of the clip goes on to show the team talking to “experts” and trialling everything from exorcisms to psychic mediums. In one frame, using psychedelics is even promised to make you feel as if you’ve gone through “years of therapy in about five hours”.

Firstly, it’s problematic to see the word ‘lab’ used in the title of the series since it alludes to a sanctioned medical component of the show which does not appear to exist.

But perhaps most alarming of all is that Goop’s medical advice, which in the past has been proven to be misleading and dangerous, appears here under a glitzy guise of feminist empowerment and reinvention, with Paltrow enthusing to the audience about how you only get to live once.

It’s a troubling marketing trend for the series that has started to roll out via both Netflix and Goop and through the medium of glossy mag covers, such as the recent cover of Harper’s Bazaar in a profile titled Gwyneth Paltrow Gets Real About Past Relationships, Her Place in the #MeToo Movement, and Why She Quit Acting for Good.

The profile opens by setting the scene of bare-foot Paltrow who “is sitting at the head of a long table outside her office at Goop’s headquarters, an environment done up in shades of grey and white where Sweetgreen abounds, and arrays of self-improvement books and organic snacks are organised with military precision.”

The profile probes her on everything from the relationship her children, 15-year-old Apple and 13-year-old Moses, have with fame, to her living arrangments with husband Brad Falchuk and of course, a whole lot of discussion that acts as promotion for The Goop Lab. 

It’s a piece that positions Paltrow as a successful and infectiously warm, rule-breaking woman you’d actually quite like to share a glass of Goop-sanctioned wine with, and while aspects of this persona may certainly be true, what it doesn’t do is ask her any tough questions about the promotion of her controversial health ideals on Netflix. Except for one line where the interviewer suggests that there has been “no shortage of mirth and fury surrounding Goop”.

To which Paltrow breezily replies “probably three years ago there was a bunch of negative stuff all the time, and in a situation like that when you have a couple of people really gunning for you. But now it’s pretty great.”

The ‘negative stuff’ breezed over in the profile is not just noise generated by internet trolls suffering from a bad case of tall poppy syndrome, but rather the times Goop has been held accountable by media, medical experts and even the subject of lawsuits.

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In 2018 it was reported that Goop had agreed to pay $145,000 in civil penalties in a settlement in California after an investigation found its claims about some of the products it sells were not backed by scientific evidence, the Orange County district attorney’s office said, according to The New York Times.  The settlement involved three products that the company had promised would deliver medical benefits.

Two items were “eggs” for vaginal wellness, that Goop promised would balance hormones, increase bladder control and regulate menstrual cycles, while promising that the third item, an Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend, “could help prevent depression,” according to the district attorney’s office.

Also in 2018, it was reported that Goop had been reported to British regulators for more than 113 alleged breaches of UK advertising law. According to The Sunday Times, who viewed documents from the Good Thinking Society, a charity that promotes scientific thinking, the company was accused of spreading “potentially dangerous” advice related to “unproven” health products.

The charity highlighted Goop products that experts warn could endanger the public, including Goop’s the Mother Load, a “top-of-the-line natal protocol” that is marketed towards UK customers — specifically for women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant and that contains 110% of the recommended “daily value” of vitamin A for adults. However, the World Health Organisation has warned pregnant women not to take supplements containing vitamin A because of the potential risk to an unborn baby.

Many medical experts, including Dr Jennifer Gunter, a gynecologist, columnist and author who is a specialist in chronic pain medicine and vulvovaginal disorders have publically called out the new Goop-based Netflix series and warned of its dangerous content.

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Accredited obstetrician-gynecologist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Dr. Yolanda Kirkham, has publically stated that she worries about any wellness product or piece of information that originates from a company such as Goop, which is designed first and foremost with profit in mind.

“It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact-based information and marketing,” Kirkham told Global News. “We’ve seen from celebrity-backed viral misinformation that results can be harmful or deadly.”

While The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow may seem harmless on the surface, a group of women trailing weird and wonderful procedures in a documentary style setting, it’s not hard to believe that a company with this type of history and ethos is capable of doing more harm than good.

“I think I’ve reached the status in the entertainment world where no one’s going to fuck with me,” Gwyneth Paltrow says in the other Harper’s Bazaar cover story, and while that’s probably true, let’s hope there’s some kind of regulation when it comes to the content of her new Netflix series.

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