The stories of secret sects, charismatic gurus or the villainous Damien Nomed (Normand D’Amour) in The gold of time obsess me. That’s why I got sucked in and stirred by the criminal miniseries The Vow, which reveals the extent of the horrors committed by the NXIVM organization, funded in particular by the sisters Clare and Sara Bronfman, the heirs of Montreal billionaire Edgar Bronfman Sr., of the Seagram spirits empire.
This incredible “true crime” docuseries, offered on Crave in English and French with the HBO / Super Ecran combo, ticks all the boxes of this popular genre. It involves Hollywood sims, including Allison Mack from Smallville, Bonnie Piesse from Star wars and Catherine Oxenberg from Dynasty. It bears witness to the descent into hell of well-meaning and vulnerable people, on whom the trap is closing. Even the son of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas and the Dalai Lama appear there.
And this whole atrocious story, which includes branding ceremonies (literally) of female slaves, has taken place in the last 20 years, in the suburbs of Albany, not so far from Montreal.
Obviously, NXIVM, pronounced Nexium, did not initially advertise itself as a cult, but as a vaguely new age development and advancement program. Classes cost a few thousand dollars and attracted brilliant people looking for meaning to their lives. The more you attend these personal growth classes, the higher you climb in the hierarchy.
The Vow – The wish, in French – follows a group of NXIVM leaders who contributed to its rise before becoming disillusioned, fleeing and chasing their former guru Keith Raniere, a self-proclaimed genius with an IQ of 240 who triumphs over volleyball and sports. Napoleon Dynamite headbands.
As members of NXIVM worked in television or in cinema, they filmed each meeting, training session or private party, which plunges us into the heart of this sect. It’s both terrifying and fascinating, like watching a spy thriller. The amount of archives is colossal: promotional videos, phone calls, everything has been recorded.
The creepiest portion points to halfway through the nine hour-long episodes of The Vow. There was a top secret sub-group inside NXIVM itself, only for the prettiest women. These “slaves” lived under the total control of Keith Raniere, who ordered them to count their every calorie and submit to his sexual desires.
And who supervised the initiation ceremonies where female slaves, including minors, had the initials of guru Keith Raniere inscribed near their pubis? Actress Allison Mack, whose brain was completely washed by Keith Raniere, a harmless-looking narcissistic sociopath.
The series features hypnotic lengths and repetitions, which evoke the indoctrination and cramming practiced by the guru with the round glasses.
New York State Police have arrested several NXIVM executives, including Clare Bronfman, comedian Allison Mack and executive Keith Raniere. He is not a whistleblower, as this news was picked up around the world in the summer of 2018.
HBO has confirmed that The Vow would continue for a second season, which will show the trial of the guru.
Still on Crave, it is also possible to watch Seduced from the Starz channel, a four-episode miniseries where actress Catherine Oxenberg struggles to get her daughter India out of this cursed sect.
Finally, Canal D will relay the documentary on February 18 at 10 p.m. NXIVM: The missing of the sect, about four young women dead or not found since their meeting with Keith Raniere.
Interesting start for Big brother
The first issue of Big Brother Celebrity got off to a very honest start on Sunday night with 641,000 curious listeners. In comparison, the first episode ofOD With us attracted 480,000 people to Noovo in September. And it was a known brand.
However, TVA, in the absence of an original edition of Everybody talks about it, outrageously dominated the ratings of this first Sunday under curfew with the gala Celebration (1,234,000), Vlog (929,000) and the party disco by PA Méthot (891,000). On Radio-Canada, Guy A. Lepage and Dany Turcotte’s best moments attracted 523,000 followers, and Discovery attracted 548,000 viewers in front of their small screen.