Photo Credit: by Hollywood Meraki, flickr.com
Gwyneth Paltrow recently made waves (again) with the debut of her new Netflix series, The Goop Lab. Ever since the series premiered on January 24, 2020, viewers around the world have been tuning in to watch Gwyneth and her team at Goop tackle controversial topics and experimental treatments such as psychedelics, energy work, cold therapy, anti-aging regiments, mediating communication between the living and the dead, and other offbeat topics in the wellness and alternative health space.
While the series has caught the attention of many curious minds, some accuse the topics of falling under the category of pseudoscience -- or, worse, faulty science altogether. While many viewers admire the bold approach to seldom discussed topics, the series has also been at the brunt of criticism over the medical and scientific misinformation it is presenting as factual.
It’s important to note that the TV show is not intended to provide medical advice but to examine and explore topics that are taboo or off the table in many circles. Even the Goop website clearly states, “The series is designed to entertain and inform—not provide medical advice. You should always consult your doctor when it comes to personal health and before you start treatment.”
So, can you trust Gwyneth Paltrow’s new six-episode Netflix series, The Goop Lab? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at The Goop Lab so you can view the series from an educated and well informed point of view.
About The Goop Lab and founder Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow is best known as an American actress and A-list Hollywood celebrity. However, in recent years, she added a few additional titles to her resume and also branched out as an author and businesswoman -- and, in 2008, launched the modern lifestyle brand Goop. These days, she’s better known as an entrepreneur than an actress.
Goop started as a weekly newsletter that Paltrow wrote from her kitchen table. It soon blossomed into a popular resource and has expanded into uncharted territory. Today, Goop is famous for addressing surprising topics that most outlets choose to avoid -- for example: trauma, female sexuality, herbal supplements, cannabis, psychedelics, spiritual healing, and more. Goop also has brick-and-mortar locations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London.
The Goop website explains, “We operate from a place of curiosity and non-judgment, and we start hard conversations, crack open taboos, and look for connection and resonance everywhere we can find it. We don’t mind being the tip of the spear—in short, we go first so you don’t have to.”
It’s no secret at Goop: Gwyneth Paltrow herself is both the CEO and the main guinea pig for a lot of experiential and experimental undertakings. As you’ll see if you watch even one 30-minute episode of The Goop Lab, Paltrow’s open-minded approach to all things on society’s fringes is shared by her staff as well. She is also joined on camera by doctors, researchers, and healers; each of them are unafraid of trying new things, tackling sensitive issues, being vulnerable, and asking the hard questions.
Psilocybin therapy, healing tips, and psychedelics: medical advice or faulty science?
While The Goop Lab is a great example of “infotainment,” viewer discretion is advised. Not only do the episodes tackle eyebrow-raising topics, Goop as a company has been criticized in the past for making dubious claims that are not necessarily supported by fact-based, hard science.
The New Yorker reports, “Goop, at its core a sophisticated advertising apparatus, often disseminates useful advice; it also has a way of making any advice look potentially useful. In 2018, ten county prosecutors in California sued the company after a consumer watchdog, Truth in Advertising, compiled a report detailing fifty dubious health claims made on the Goop Web site. The most famous involved eggs made of jade and quartz that were advertised as preventing uterine prolapse when inserted into the vagina. Goop paid a hundred and forty-five thousand dollars in fines and had to offer refunds.”
The article continues, “Like other celebrity vanity projects … The Goop Lab is a documentary in name only. Executive-produced by Paltrow, it is propaganda for the Goop company and for its ideas of magical thinking.”
Still, many are praising the fact that the show is willing to go where many others won’t, giving a platform to therapies and treatments that may be able to help but have long been relegated to the sidelines. But for every supporter of the show, it seems there are even more detractors.
Another article published by Mic is titled The Goop Lab’s healing energies are a dangerous affront to mental health treatment and states, “Paltrow’s most recent expansion of her self-care empire explores alternative health treatments with gleeful irreverence for science. While some dismiss Paltrow’s series as merely irritating and tone deaf, medical and mental health professionals have flagged the show as a seriously dangerous endorsement of treatments with little to no scientific evidence to back them.”
While the series is entertaining, thought-provoking, and will open viewers up to subjects and perspectives they may not have considered before, it’s important not to let the series or its featured “experts” serve as a replacement for certified medical professionals and doctors. At the end of the day, it’s up to the viewer to watch the series with discernment.
In many episodes, Paltrow features not only herself but usually an alternative health practitioner and a licensed professional who is there to support or shoot down the other’s claims. In one episode, Goop staffers fly to Jamaica for a psychedelic mushroom-tea ceremony and experience a drug trip; in another, a sex educator explores female orgasms and masturbation. These episodes are meant to transport viewers out of their comfort zone, displaying an alternative approach to topics that people shy away from in most circles.
Alternative therapies may be useful, but they probably should not be adopted by the general public until they are studied in more depth and with more credibility than simply anecdotal evidence on a TV show. That’s not to say that these treatments are not helpful, effective, and the way of the future, but they do not come without their risks, difficulties, and drawbacks, as is portrayed in the series. It is not yet clear how much of these therapies’ success rates are placebo and how much are truly credible.
At the end of the day, The Goop Lab is up front about the fact that it is not intended to provide medical advice or replace a doctor; it is meant merely to entertain and inform, showcasing alternative experiences and what’s “out there” for those curious enough to delve into these off-limits topics.
While the show does not explore practical topics like how to order meds online or why it might be a good idea to order Canada drugs, perhaps the experience of considering an unusual approach to health will benefit consumers who could use these options.
At the beginning of every episode, a disclaimer reminds viewers that “You should always consult your doctor when it comes to personal health and before you start treatment.” As long as people are following the advice that The Goop Lab itself is presenting, binge-watchers can rejoice in a series that will shock, surprise, and perhaps open their minds just a little bit wider.
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