Most people started watching Goop Lab hoping to hate it, hoping to shit all over it and the shady science it peddles — and there are definitely lots of “say what now” bits of information put forth. I tried to go into the show with a semi-open mind, reminding myself that I love a little #woo and that I am open to alternative medicine and the idea of energy and the soul affecting bodily outcomes.
I also wear an enamel pin of a syringe that reads “Thank you, science!” on my denim jacket.
Remember that thing they used to tell us in Sunday School? “Don’t open your mind too much so that your brain falls out.” That was my motto for watching.
I went in ready to learn the latest in woo and have some second-hand embarassment for those involved, and all I came away with was boredom.
Alternative medicine with the Juno filter
Goop Lab is a very pretty show, with perfect lighting and Instagram worthy backdrops. From wintery white Lake Tahoe to a pale pink salon/studio with the latest plant du jour, the show wants everything to be aspirational. Weird wellness is lovely and pleasing, don’t you see? That is how they get you: with a fiddle leaf fig tree and a mid-century modern sofa.
Goop Lab starts healing via psychedelic drugs because it is the most scientifically studied of the topics presented. And by calling it “indigenous medicine,” Goop is adding the upper middle class, white lady appropriation seal of approval.
Graphics flash on-screen about FDA-approved clinical trials or quadruple blind studies, meant to make the show’s ideas seem less Goopy. But then the featured healers say things like “extreme somatic experience,” “alchemist of life itself,” or “we changed science,” and I remember that Elizabeth Warren can fix the country but Marianne Williamson cannot.
I love a good chemical — prescribed by my doctor — that helps my brain and anxiety, but the dearth of medical professionals or true debate on Goop Lab is telling.
We get a crazy Dutchman who believes he can heal the body and stress in what is essentially the pass-out game we played in middle school, followed by an ice bath. If your fingers and toes are tingling as you shake like a leaf, that is not the body’s way of fixing the amygdala. You are hyperventilating.
We get that exorcism guy who went viral after he pulled energy from Julianne Hough’s fanny at Davos. On Goop Lab, John Amaral is doing his grab-ass game, using the dancer as his experienced client. My biggest problem with this segment is Hough herself — who annoys the shit out of me on a general level — as a way too enthusiastic devotee of Amaral’s work. Evangelism in all its forms irks me.
Putting that aside, I am willing to believe in energy healing — hell, I would try it — but Amaral should have taken his own advice, which is that maybe the world isn’t ready to witness other people’s bodywork. Keep some things private, including performative demon diarrhea.
Everybody just needs to breathe
The through-line for Goop Lab is stress. We all have anxiety. We worry about keeping our youth. Nobody wants to die. We miss our loved ones who have.
I believe there are three questions that permeate life. Is there a God? How do we survive this life with as few scars as possible? What happens after you die?
Goop Lab tries to grapple with these questions, but the finished product feels like a sanitized version of the old Real Sex on HBO. It just wasn’t that compelling or startling. While I watched Team Goop, I did other shit. I was organizing my DMC floss and making a complete cross-stitch, from design to finish.
The show didn’t grab me with anything. But that is probably the point. Keep it wacky just enough to sound credible. After all, you catch more flies with vampire facials than you do with Satanic pregnancies.
I felt actual sadness for many of the Team Goop* “volunteers” testing wacky shit in an attempt to feel better. I related to so many of their ailments, especially executive editor Kate, who has high anxiety and panic attacks, triggered post-partum. The idea of breathing to relax was a revelation (!) to her, and I wondered if the Goop insurance doesn’t cover Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Breathing technique and grounding are anxiety relief 101. Girl, you don’t need the Wim Hof method and a Polar Plunge; you need to find someone licensed in network.
*When I say Team Goop, I do not mean Gwyneth Paltrow. She takes absolutely zero risks in this show, carefully curating each moment she is on screen.
How much is this endotoxin?
The danger of the Goop Lab messaging, from a mental standpoint, is the idea that the brain can heal the body. Is there a mind/body connection? Absolutely. But you could also come away thinking that, if you are sick, you didn’t want to heal enough. You didn’t breathe in the right way. You didn’t take enough cold showers. You didn’t pay some guy $500/hour to pull the bad juju from your coccyx.
The danger of this show, from a somatic standpoint: you might be tempted to take a bad, unsafe trip — drug trip, not vacation trip — or get frostbite for healing.
The danger of this show, from a financial standpoint, is “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
Bottom line: Life is mystery and we are all just trying to figure shit out. It helps if you’re rich. And don’t ingest anything unless you run it by a doctor. Goop Lab is streaming now on Netflix.
Featured image Photo by Ian Panelo from Pexels
Amy takes pride in being a grumpy optimist. Want to talk sports ball? Amy is your girl. Her favorite New York Times crossword puzzle day is Tuesday. If your book is set in the former Soviet Union or World War 2, Amy will read it. As a recovered Southern Baptist, she is raising her daughter to be happy.