The new drama series coming to E! might cater to your suspicions about any Hollywood romance that, at least in the beginning, seems too good to be true. From Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson to Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift, I'm sure we've all had couples that made us wonder how much of what we were seeing was meant for the cameras. But before you assume that The Arrangement is based on a true story, star Christine Evangelista tells Bustle that the show is carvings its own path.
"It's a romantic thriller about an arranged marriage between two actors in Hollywood," says Evangelista, who plays Megan on The Arrangement and the recently departed Sherry on The Walking Dead. "One of them is this mega movie star and he's involved in this insular self-help group."
At first glance, the plot of The Arrangement has lead many people to compare it to past claims that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise's marriage was arranged by the Church of Scientology, which the Church vehemently denied. But in a TCA press conference, the creator denied that the series is based on the couple or Scientology and said that there's no "couch jumping" in its future. But he did note that Hollywood is chock full of self-help groups, which are more similar to The Arrangement's non-religious Institute of the Higher Mind. (Bustle reached out to the Church of Scientology and Cruise's representative for comment on the series and has not yet received a response.)
Similarly, E! President Adam Stotsky told The Hollywood Reporter, "The project is fiction. It wasn't inspired by any particular person or couple or group. In The Arrangement, our antagonist belongs to the Institute of the Higher Mind. It's a fictional self-help organization, and it pulls upon lots of resources that exist here in the Hollywood community."
One thing that sets The Arrangement apart is how Megan functions in the relationship and in the story. "I love this girl," Evangelista says. "I think she's super interesting, dynamic... charming, funny, smart, strong, all those things — but I like how she works as this lens. She is a camera through this self-help group. She reveals what's behind the curtain in Hollywood and you experience all this through her for the first time."
The life-altering decision that she is presented with on The Arrangement presents her with a variety of opportunities and the audience experiences the ramifications of that decision along with her.
To me, the most realistic thing about The Arrangement is that it indulges our human need to pick apart celebrity relationships. Even Singing In The Rain involves relationships arranged by film studios. The concept has always been a source of intrigue for ordinary people. "We think this is something greater than it is," Evangelista says about high profile couples, likening them to colosseums. "And when it's not, we wanna know why."