TO Last year, Netflix’s four-part documentary miniseries Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich told his abusive and pedophile story of sex trafficking. Now it is his partner’s turn, she is charged, everything, Ghislaine Maxwell. You get a three-hour series of Sky Documentaries, Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell, which itself feels like a shadow of Filthy Rich. The latter was not laden with original information, but provided a dense and compact history of the accounts, evidence, rumors and reports that proliferated for decades before Epstein’s arrest for child trafficking and subsequent suicide while awaiting trial.
This documentary tells the story of Maxwell’s upbringing as the youngest son of media baron and notorious bully Robert Maxwell, his years as a socialite, and his introduction and subsequent long relationship with Epstein, which many say included procuring for him girls under the age of old they were then often. passed around a network of like-minded men.
Several talking heads who are considered his “former friends” are interviewed. Among them is Lady Victoria Hervey, who laughs as she remembers Maxwell’s hilarious lesson on how to give a blowjob when they were socializing together in 1990s New York. Precious memories last, I guess, whatever your old friend faces in the end.
The chief quackery is Anna Pasternak, “Oxford contemporary” rather than “old friend”, which does not seem to have slowed her willingness to deliver tireless and repeated insights into the workings of Maxwell’s mind. We return to her about every seven minutes, so she can tell us, over and over again, that Maxwell grew up under a monstrous father, got used to pleasing horrible and corrupt men, and that she thought this, and money, was the way to protect herself. . Therefore, she was attracted to Epstein when she first entered her father’s circle. So he clung to it after Dad died and family finances suffered (upon finding out that he had left the Mirror Group pension fund and other business holdings hundreds of millions of pounds less). And so, if the allegations from multiple survivors are true, she became his child molester and solicitor for the three young women a day he liked to have sex with at his undercover surveillance townhouse or Palm mansion. Beach, depending on which one. coast they were on at the time.
Nothing is questioned. The idea that Maxwell’s upbringing led her to Epstein and predisposed her to normalize depravity and exploitation is left squatting complacently on the whole. Yet the idea that she was almost destined, doomed through no fault of her own, to be involved in people like Epstein should merit at least a passing critical thought. Otherwise, she comes uncomfortably close to accepting the idea of Maxwell as a victim herself, her free will completely worn out by her early experiences.
There are many people with traumatic childhoods who do not become (apparently) servants to convicted sex offenders (as Epstein has been since 2005, although he cut the deal, causing outrage even then, to avoid proper punishment.) . What about personal responsibility? What about personal depravity? The desire to excuse her, and indeed to excuse her, was a strong and jarring element of the first hour and a half, especially the three.
The show also didn’t question the idea, expressed explicitly by Pasternak, as always, on more than one occasion, that Maxwell is “worse than Epstein” because she, as a woman, should have known better, done better, simply been better than he. Again, if you are going to make that proposal, you really need to examine it rather than affirm and move on.
It might also have been worth asking how much worse they were together than they could have been separately. Was it a case of two toxic people meeting and creating a bigger hell than they could have individually done: a Fred and Rose West or Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, without leading to murder? Or do men as rich and powerful as Epstein always eventually manage to find the staff they need?
A three-hour documentary should do more than competently collect facts (even if, as this one did, it provides decent consideration and screen time to survivors). She has room to theorize and she should take it, rather than padding time with people like Pasternak (and her assurances that she is “horrified” by Maxwell’s alleged behavior, as if the rest of us are sitting around thinking about butterflies and marshmallows) and old friends with nothing personal or insightful to say.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism