What I thought about: Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

Convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, made headlines last year after he was charged with additional sex offences and then killed himself (*allegedly). What I’d never understood was who he really was and what he did to land him in jail and, ultimately, wind up dead. This powerful docuseries explains all.

Sarah Ransome recalling the moment she tried to swim to safety from Epstein’s private island

What’s it about?
Through interviews with ex-business associates, people who worked on his ‘paedophile island’, police chiefs and lawyers who worked on the case, and even Epstein’s own lawyer Alan Dershowitz, the story of Jeffrey Epstein’s criminal history is told. Above all of these people should sit Epstein’s victims, and we hear many of them tell their story in this series.

We learn where Epstein came from, and that he’s always been a manipulative liar. He started out as a school teacher, having lied about his degree (he didn’t have one) to get the job. From there, well, it was just a trail of deceit and crookery. The one thing the documentary isn’t able to tell you is exactly how he made his money, besides the vague notion that he managed other people’s money (and the assertion that, in some cases, he stole it).

What makes for more uncomfortable watching is the history of Epstein’s underage sex offences. With the help of his partner, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell (who has now been arrested & charged with a litany of crimes), he lured underaged girls to his Palm Beach mansion, offering them money in return for a massage which often turned into non-consensual intercourse – in other words, he raped them. There were apparently hundreds of victims, it’s really quite horrific.

What do I like about it?
It’s not really appropriate to say I ‘liked’ this documentary. I do however think it’s important to watch. You feel a sense of outrage at Epstein’s ability to evade capture and, even when he was convicted of a numbed-down charge of soliciting a minor for prostitution in 2008, how his prison sentence was a joke and he was able to do whatever he wanted.

In some ways we can draw parallels to the shocking Abducted in Plain Sight documentary. Both men managed to manipulate others into letting them do whatever they wanted – and in both cases this lead to the sexual assault of minors.

What do I not like about it?
Overall it is a solid documentary, but some more rigid structure would have been a bit better. We kept jumping up and down the timeline, which was at times difficult to keep up with,

Worth a watch?
It’s not going to be an easy watch for some people, but if you were ever curious about the true scale of Epstein’s crimes then you need to watch this.

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What I thought about: Elite (Season 3)

The scandal-hit students of Las Encinas are back. Once again, someone has ended up dead. Although the show’s many side plots are somewhat weaker than earlier seasons, its overarching strengths mean this season is still a must-watch.

You find out what they’re all looking at by Episode 2

What’s it about?
A quick recap of Elite in general: Sixth-formers at a prestigious fee-paying school get up to all sorts of scandalous stuff, but this gets taken to a new level when three comparatively poor kids from the local (now demolished) comprehensive get in on a scholarship. The elite kids can’t handle this invasion, and all hell breaks loose.

Each series is centred around a whodunnit that employs a flash-forward structure to build the viewer up to the final episode. But it’s also so much more than that. Elite has covered a staggering array of topics in its three-season run. The rich/poor divide, trophy wives, cancer, religion, polyamory, same-sex parenting, corruption, fraud, drugs, extortion, murder, sex, and even incest. And I’ve probably only recalled half of them.

I don’t want to spoil earlier seasons, so I can’t say much else about the plot. If you’ve seen earlier seasons of Elite, you can be assured this one is quite similar.

What do I like about it?
Those topics I was talking about? Each one is covered beautifully. Seriously, everything in this show is beautifully done. The scenery, the wardrobing, the casting, the music, the camera shots. Side note on the casting: I’m not ashamed to say that every single character is overwhelmingly attractive.

To be entirely honest, most of the season ran through without much of a surprise. The incidents that happen in Elite are only shocking the first time – so I’m a bit numb to them by season 3. But the final episode is something special. The tension in the club, the words cutting deeper than the broken neck of the champagne bottle, the final send-off. A few minutes are all it takes to illustrate just how deeply the characters are connected to each other. As a fan of the show from the start, it has to be my favourite episode so far.

What do I not like about it?
A potentially unpopular opinion: I didn’t care for Ander’s cancer diagnosis (hardly a spoiler, it happens near the start). In general, the relationship between Ander and Omar was frustrating. I know the show really wants to portray their relationship as some beautiful and delicate thing, but almost every conversation between them resulted in one getting pissed off, and usually pretty quickly, too.

Also, if there’s one person who can be said to be the main character, it’s Samu. In almost every show I’ve ever watched, the main character sucks. This is no exception. He flip flops between good and evil, all whilst being very annoying about it.

Worth a watch?
Absolutely, and especially so if you’ve seen any other season of the show.

By the way…

  • The show has been renewed for 4th and 5th season, but with most of the cast replaced. I’m really sad to see them go, but you can’t keep everyone together after they graduate, can you?
  • I have lots of opinions about this show so, if you want to chat with me about them, please do.

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