2020 might be absolute mayhem, but there's perhaps nothing this year (well, aside from coronavirus) that compares to the twists and turns of the NXIVM scandal. The self-improvement group crumbled in 2018, and made headlines after being investigated for being a suspected illegal sex cult. Now, HBO's NXIVM docuseries The Vow will take you inside the controversial organization. And as revealed in a new teaser released on Thursday, July 30, the new show will debut on Sunday, August 23.
The new multi-episode docuseries, from Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, will follow a range of people who joined NXIVM (pronounced Nexium, like the heartburn drug) over the course of several years. The group was essentially disbanded in 2018 after facing allegations of sex trafficking and forced labor from some of its former members. And the documentary will both shine a light on these claims with personal accounts, and present some positive experiences.
According to a press release obtained by Bustle, the new series aims "to reveal the issues behind the headlines and explore the emotional toll of unfolding events on these individuals." The docuseries promises to be a balanced look at the organization. Noujaim even has a personal connection to the group, having taken NXIVM's introductory "Executive Success Program" workshop back in 2010.
NVIXM came into major question when a 2017 New York Times expose lead to a federal investigation of the group and its founder Keith Raniere, who allegedly ran a secret club within his organization called Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS), which is Latin for "master over the slave women." According to former members and prosecutors, women who gained entry into the club were allegedly forced to have sex with Raniere, and were required to submit compromising photos and brand themselves with his initials to join.
Despite the alarming amount of allegations, it took a year for the FBI to finally arrest Raniere in March 2018. The following June, a Brooklyn jury found Raniere guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. He is currently awaiting his sentencing. The case gained even more notoriety thanks to Smallville actor Allison Mack, a high-ranking member of NXIVM who was accused of assisting Raniere and participating in DOS activities. She was also arrested in March 2018 and pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.
The Vow will premiere on Aug. 23 on HBO, and will also stream on HBO Max.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.