Louis Theroux has become somewhat of a national treasure in the past decade, and it's not surprising look back at his extensive filmography. Just recently, the filmmaker returned to study the Westboro Baptist Church, arguably one of his most famous subjects. But the subject matter for his next documentary differs substantially, as his latest doc, Louis Theroux: Selling Sex, will see the journalist investigate Britain's sex industry, and how society treats women who earn a living from it.
As Digital Spy reports, it's been a while since Theroux has been back on British shores, as Surviving America's Most Hated Family and his 2018 series Altered States were primarily based in America.
Selling Sex explores the UK's sex industry, which has entered a whole new era. There's no release date as of yet, but BBC Two has released a lengthy press release that details what Theroux will be exploring, which will primarily be how the internet has changed the sex industry. Thanks to social media and other websites, women can "sell sex from their own home or hotels, utilising technology to share photos, make bookings and vet potential clients," as part of the synopsis for the series reads.
In the hour-long doc, Theroux will explore how technology has changed the landscape of the sex industry, and whether this occupation is a safe way to earn a living. "I thought it would be revealing to speak to the women involved in the business of selling sex," Theroux said in a BBC press statement. "Once we started looking we discovered that the sexual economy seems to have been turbo-charged by the prevalence of new websites and social media that allows users to meet up more easily, to write reviews of each other, and swap information."
"What we ended up with was a very intimate look at three very individual women and the different paths that led them to this field of work. I found it revealing and thought-provoking to make — I hope viewers have the same experience."
Theroux also touches open how he is "drawn to stories that involve ethical wrinkles," and how debates that arise when something like selling sex is mentioned can be divisive, engaging, and informative. As Digital Spy writes, the way in which the sex industry has evolved online and has made women feel "empowered to exchange sex for a fee in a way that they can feel secure and in control of," but there are still some that feel as though "women are being exploited, or that monetising sex should not be a thing at all."
These opposing sides will make for an intriguing narrative, and as is always the case with Theroux, it'll most likely leave viewers pondering about this subject for weeks. "On the one hand, none of the activities taking place here are illegal; everything is above board and both parties have mutually agreed on the arrangement," Theroux explained. "On the other, it's impossible to deny that for many — maybe most — people, there is something unsavoury in the idea of accepting money for an act that is so intimate." He added: "They have a problem with those who do it and see it as a symptom of a society that is controlled and dominated by men."