(Un)well takes a critical look at holistic medicine.
Netflix’s new docuseries is the anti-Goop Lab. (Un)well casts homeopathic medicine in a questionable light, discussing whether things like essential oils and bee venom are just placebos. And while a Season 2 of (Un)well hasn’t yet been announced ahead of the show’s Aug. 12 premiere, its subject matter is bound to strike a nerve one way or another.
Each of the show’s six episodes focuses on a different holistic treatment — breast milk, extreme fasting, tantric sex, essential oils, ayahuasca, and apitherapy (or treatment with bee venom). However, there are plenty of topics they don’t cover in (Un)well Season 1, some of which appear in The Goop Lab, like psychedelic psychotherapy and energy healing therapy.
But despite its topical nature, The Daily Beast’s Laura Bradley was concerned that the experts (Un)well touts are themselves conspiracy theorists. She cites Dr. Eric Z, featured in the essential oils episode, whom the series calls an essential oil and wellness expert. However, Bradley points out that (Un)well glosses over his own colorful background — in the last few days, he has spread misinformation about COVID-19 and is a 5G truther.
Holistic medicine is certainly a hot topic in the U.S., and one that’s only gaining interest. As of 2015, homeopathy was a $1.2 billion dollar industry, according to the Nutrition Business Journal; in 2017, Pew Research Center reported that approximately 1 in 5 Americans had tried alternative medicine. After all, even more mainstream practices like yoga, meditation, and clean eating were once considered fringe. And who doesn’t have at least one Facebook friend selling essential oils or wellness supplements?
One important point that (Un)well makes, per the Daily Beast, is how much money these alternative treatments tend to make. It’s one of the biggest criticisms of multilevel marketing companies, whose sellers tend to be stay-at-home moms and who almost never make a profit off the product they’re touting to their friends and family.
In fact, Vox’s The Goods reported that Young Living and doTERRA, another essential oils enterprise, among other MLMs, are taking advantage of the pandemic to recruit new sellers. "Covid-19 is the latest in a long series of scam come-ons telling people that this MLM scheme will fulfill their needs," Pyramid Scheme Alert president Robert FitzPatrick told Vox.
Ultimately, this series is bound to be controversial — either for not being critical enough of alternative medicine, as The Daily Beast suggests, or for being too hard on people who just want to get well. If it strikes a deep enough chord, however, then perhaps Netflix will greenlight a second season.
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