This was an unusual show for a number of reasons. The show starts off fairly simple but slowly evolves into an intriguing drama with complexity and depth.
The series features Riley Keough as law student Christine Reade, who makes a decision to become an escort right about the same time she starts an internship at a law firm. Money is obviously the primary factor, but for Christine specifically, it’s also about power. The first few episodes of the series revolve around her managing multiple roles together and making everything work.
The show really starts to get going after all the setup has taken place. You may expect that a standard story where the character realises the error of their ways and leaves the profession; however, in this case, the show subverts the tropes. For Christine, things don’t go quite as smoothly as she’d like and everything begins to slip. One of her clients starts to get obsessively attached, and Christine sleeps with her boss only to find out he’s involved in shady dealings. It starts to become harder and harder for her to keep the different parts of her lives separate from each other. The later half of the show revolves around Christine losing control and trying desperately to get it back, leading to an engaging and riveting spectacle.
The aesthetics of the show are impressive, if not bleak and colourless. We’re treated to a landscape environment consisting of large windows, expensive hotel rooms, and fancy restaurants, none too colourful and all full of class. Given that the main players of the show are rich business people and lawyers, it’s a perspective that makes sense. There’s even a brief indication of how small the high life environment is when Christine accidentally runs into her boss while seeing a client.
The choreography is well done and works in conjunction with the sound to really produce an interesting viewing experience. It all comes together to really feel the impact of the scene and the intensity of what the characters are experiencing. For example, in one scene, when a character is jogging but constantly looking back, the viewer is made to feel uneasy and worried with them. Another great scene occurred towards the end when Christine is masturbating alone but unable to get off, symbolising how all her choices up to that point have led her to get all the money and control she could want, but ultimately, with no satisfaction.
This is a show where the main character is an escort, so as you might imagine, there are a number of explicit scenes. To be frank, they are the least interesting parts of the show, sometimes deterring from the bigger story. If you’re looking for soft erotica, you’re going to be disappointed. Personally, the only reason they were interesting was to see how they contribute to the bigger picture.
The characters are a stimulating bunch, in that you don’t really care for or relate to any of them, even Christine. Most of them are cold and aloof while some of them are downright ruthless at times. This is in line with the kind of people and environment that’s being depicted, especially with the emphasis on the not-so-great parts of people. Emotions, or having some sort of emotional attachment, is depicted to us as a negative trait, where you need to be distant to move forward in such an atmosphere. That’s not to say so the acting is boring, all the actors are incredibly on point, giving out certain subtleties that show you that there’s more than meets the eye with them.
Riley Keough is the literal and figurative star of the show, giving an amazing performance as Christine. She’s able to play a number of different personas, from Christine’s usual stoic expressionless self to her happy and playful escort persona. Sometimes you genuinely believe Christine cares only to realise it was all a charade. You see her keep what little emotions she has in check, while constantly striving to gain control and to be taken seriously. As things start to fall apart, you also see her become more paranoid and start lashing out at everyone. This show does hard but intriguingly interesting work, giving us a frank look at a very real thing. It refuses to judge Christine and so challenges you to judge its central theme. It might show a very cynical outlook, that relationships are just inherently transactions, but it does it well.