18 Jan Self Inflicted Punishment: Liveblogging Netflix’s “Escorts”
Subtitled: “Ugh/Oh No!”
I don’t do a ton of liveblog stuff here because it’s kind of a copout, as far as writing goes. It’s a collection of my in-the-moment reactions to things, and not a thoughtful meditation on a film or show (or whatever) as a whole. But Netflix has been pitching Escorts to me for the last month or so in the ‘Suggested For You’ column, and since it’s semi-topical (especially with my upcoming London jaunt on the near horizon), I figured I’d knock it out and be done with it. Lord save me from the recommendations I have coming my way later in the “since you watched Escorts…” pile.
Also, I’m having a bit of a tummy-troubles sick day, so perhaps some tv time is just what I need to keep my mind on other things.
If you don’t know about Escorts, join the club! It was apparently broadcast in 2015 on Channel 4 in the UK as High Class Call Girls and then repackaged as Escorts for Netflix at the end of 2016. Reviews of the doc seem split between the usual “oh these poor women. How sad for them,” dribble, and essays that must have been written based on how many times someone could use the term “unflinching” as a descriptor. There isn’t a ton of unbiased information about the documentary or the women featured, so it looks like we’re all set to form our own opinions.
Which, based on what these women have done to their faces, seems like it’s not going to be tough to do.
That was judgmental and stupid of me. I wear metal weights to make my scrotum longer, so I’ve no space to talk about who’s injecting what into where to make whatever bigger. It’s your own body.
Ready to get started? If you’re gonna watch along with me, hit play… nnnnnnnnnnnow!
“Escorts” on Netflix: Liveblog
0:30 Opening titles are explaining that “pimps and madams” are being replaced by this new-fangled thing called the internet that everyone is using. I should have researched who this was made for first. I’m already convinced I’m not the target audience.
0:45 I already hate this. This dog and I feel the same way.
2:03 Cookie and Emily B are explaining what “escorting” is. “When you sell your puuussssaayyy for monaayyyy!” exclaims Emily. (I feel like Michael Bluth telling George Michael that the “mere fact that you’re calling it that tells me you’re not ready!“)
Cookie is trying to give a broader definition that includes “drinks, sexual favors. When you escort someone someone somewhere,” while Emily makes cash register sounds in the background.
I’m already on Cookie’s side. Emily seems like she might be drunk. Or a moron.
4:05 London looks really pretty here. If I tune out Emily’s grating accent and voice, I get a little excited about how beautiful the city is. I’m gonna be there soon!
4:45 They keep showing the women topless for reasons that are unexplained. And based on the size of Emily’s massive (and massively artificial looking) breasts, it can’t be comfortable running around like that. Emily has also just explained that her “vagina’s broken,” and that she needs a new one. So… Cool. Cool.
Both women have tiny dogs who seem to be forever reacting the same way that I am to their crass, overloud vulgarities. Shows like this always make me seem like such a prude. If you met me for the first time watching this, you’d never expect I had a whole website where all I talked about was stuff you can do with penises.
5:50 They’re showing the women handling huge piles of cash now, and explaining that they make “5-6 grand a week,” (~$6700 USD) which is shocking money, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know anyone who’s dealing in that realm. Maybe London will be a boon for me! Or maybe I need to be a woman with fake breasts to hit those kinda notes. I guess we’ll see.
8:00 I’m having trouble figuring out what the angle of this documentary is. On one hand, these women seem to be presenting themselves like sensible people with jobs who make money. But then they’re constantly filmed topless or dressing, perpetually drinking, or curled up in bed. And the scoring seems bleak and rather dark, as though the filmmakers are alluding to something that’s not being shown yet. I don’t enjoy that.
8:50 Yeah the tone is suuuuper inconsistant here. They just cut to a shot of Emily wiping jizz off her giant fake tit and explaining how she ‘loves cum.’ As the followup to Cookie’s story about how she once had to break a guy’s nose because he refused to leave her hotel room. What are you selling me, Escorts?! I don’t understand what you’re doing.
10:00 I already want to be friends with Cookie. I don’t know how she did it, but she managed to turn her flat, greasy at-home tiedown into golden, bouncy curls in about 2 minutes. That seems like information I could use.
Meanwhile, Emily is explaining how much better her small annoyed-looking dog is than a real man. Cool.
11:45 SERIOUSLY, Escorts. Emily is just squatting in the tub now, hosing herself off with the shower massager while they “interview” her. Wtf are you doing? You can’t wait until she puts a shirt on and sits down like an adult human woman? You can only conduct this interview while she hoses out her parts? Really?
13:53 Now we’re getting at-home botox and filler injections. Yeah. This seems legit. This is a necessary part of these women’s stories. Sure.
This is like the plastic surgeon’s office scene from First Wives Club but without the flattering lighting or self aware humor. Or Rob Reiner.
15:30 I really am dying to know how Cookie keeps doing this with her hair. She looks broken-the-fuck-down stepping out of the shower, and then again with these bouncy, golden waves as she steps out the door! Is her blowdryer also a magic wand? Why are we showing lip injections in extreme close-up but completely skipping her obvious gift: Hair Sorcery.
16:00 This music is SO fucking sinister. I don’t understand!
20:00 *exhausted sigh*
21:19 They just SHOWED Cookie doing her hair and I STILL don’t understand what’s happening or how it looks so good after. This is obviously black magic.
21:30 This is the longest 46 minutes I’ve ever endured. Half of.
24:30 If I’m being totally honest, these women are not uninteresting and their story is not uninteresting, but the people directing and filming this are film school dropout garbage people. This is an atrocious presentation, regardless of the subject matter. It’s clear that any salient thoughts or points these women make only slipped in to the final product by mistake. All the camera man seems to be focused on is their breasts and any shot that might degrade or embarrass them. Why show them having sex with a client? Why shoot it from behind and below so that you can clearly see cellulite?
It’s important to remember with things like this that there is no such thing as truth. This is ALL editing. This is ALL structured. And there are no accidents. These shots are intended to knock these women down a few pegs, and juxtaposed with voiceovers designed to portray them as giggling idiots.
And I don’t think they are.
26:52 I should have just done this as a review based on the dogs’ expressions. Dog faces could have told this whole story and my exact responses to it.
29:15 Emily has a boyfriend now and she really really wants us all to know about it. She’s mentioned it about 40 times in the last three minutes. The very second she announced she had a relationship she began to refer to her work as “all this,” and talking about how she was excited to leave “all this” behind. Interesting.
30:00 It’s interesting that both of these women have puffy too-much-alcohol faces and no one has so much as mentioned exercising or working out. I can’t imagine the bank these ladies could make if they started caring for their bodies a bit more. The chain smoking, wine drinking, zero-exercise look must play better in LDN than it does in NYC.
31:42 Cookie’s mom is an idiot.
32:40 I don’t know what’s happened now, but Cookie is brunette and has a blackberry instead of the iPhone she had in the first 30 mins of this. Is this a different movie now? Is it forward or backward in time?
Bad, bad filmmaking is what it is.
35:00 And now she’s blonde again.
40:00 And now she’s setting up her own escort agency. Somehow. Despite not understanding what “at capacity” meant on a website at the beginning of the doc. She just suddenly has a website and a company with “loads of girls who all want to be on there.” This is terrrrrrrible filmmaking. No other word for it. Terrible.
41:05 Oh! Emily is pregnant! How great. And now her boyfriend is a “bit of a prick” so she’s not having the baby. She’s also exclaimed that if she had a daughter, there’s “not a fucking chance” that she’d let her be an escort or work in porn. So. Wow. Great. I guess the director got the sad sack hypocrite angle they were gunning for from her. Well played.
This is depressing for all the wrong reasons.
45:30 Emily is in a new relationship and has stopped escorting. Cookie moved and is going to start her agency soon. Great. So. What was the point of this?
It’s hard to imagine what the focus of this was meant to be. With a 46 minute runtime, I can’t picture that anyone thought they were going to tell a full, coherent, or evenhanded story, but this was especially sloppy, unfocused and ultimately pointless.
If you had to boil it down, the goal seemed to be a cautionary tale to young women: “Don’t be escorts, or you’ll end up like this! See how selectively we edited what they said, and shot them from unflattering angles with no makeup or while they were dressing? That could be you!”
There was nothing ‘unflinching’ about this documentary, and I think one could argue that it flinched almost constantly, bouncing from aimless story to aimless story as each woman declared they no longer wanted to “talk about it,” each time “it” became something real or uncomfortable.
Maybe you could call this a success because people watching will likely be able to take whatever they want away from it. People who think escorting is shameful or sad will see these women as shameful and sad. And people who live in a state of ‘don’t rain on my parade!‘ denial about what they do and what they look like will see them as strong and courageous for doing what they wanted with their lives.
The truth is somewhere in between, most likely. And like everyone’s story, there are sad elements. But choosing to be a sexworker isn’t what makes those elements sad. It’s choosing to see sexwork as a “last resort” or bastion of victimhood that makes it sad.
Don’t watch Escorts.
And if you do, don’t take it as a window into the lives of real escorts.
And if you don’t know how to avoid doing that, don’t watch Escorts.