Science

Here Are the Goopiest Moments in Netflix’s New Goop Show

Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘The Goop Lab’ subjects her employees to a host of fancy, dubious wellness trends.

Gwyneth Paltrow talks to Goop's Chief Content Officer in a still from her new show, the Goop Lab.
Gwyneth Paltrow talks to Goop’s Chief Content Officer in the Goop Lab. Adam Rose/Netflix

The biggest crime of the Goop Lab—the Netflix version of Gwyneth Paltrow’s luxury wellness brand/publication/store/vanity exercise, set to premiere on January 24th—might be that it’s rather boring. At half an hour or so each, the six episodes mostly focus on Paltrow and the site’s Chief Content Officer while they sit on pink couches in beautiful, poofy clothing chatting with experts (and also “experts”) about different health (“health”) practices that have risen to trend status over the last decade or so.

Alas, no one steams their vagina, and no one is trying to sell you a $500 heated blanket (at least, not directly via the Netflix interface. The whole show is, in a way, an ad for an exorbitantly expensive way of moving through the world. What caught us off guard: some episodes hint at a version of Goop that dispenses information that could be actually be mildly useful, such as learning a good breathing technique, or being aware of what kinds of bodies are featured in media.

But this is still Goop. Over the course of the series, the Goop Lab manages to provide us with moments of privilege, derangement ,and cultural appropriation. Here, we’ve documented the Goopiest moments of the show. (We’ve gone in order of episodes, which happens to roughly correlate with most normal to most Goopy.) Let us descend into the muck.

A bunch of Goopers fly to Jamaica to get high: Yep, they call themselves Goopers, and in The Healing Trip a bunch of them fly to a retreat to try magic mushrooms in a place where they’re not regulated. The episode does a surprisingly good job balancing the luxury drug getaway with talking head segments from ordinary folks who tried psychedelics in clinical trials at universities, where they are being explored for their psychiatric effects. Not to worry, things will get batshit in later episodes.

Why it’s Goopy: Getting on a plane to go take psychedelic drugs is quite fancy!

A series of close-ups of vulvas:  Goop’s boundary-pushing impulse is trained on shame and patriarchal beauty standards rather than science in the frankly refreshing The Pleasure is Ours. “I was a grown woman, thinking I was sexually deformed that my vulva had these long inner lips,” sex educator Betty Dodson tells Paltrow. Shortly thereafter a bunch of not-pornified vulvas appear on screen in a slideshow, in all their varied shades and topographies. While it’s hard to see how this is as revolutionary for women and sex as the show thinks it is (at minimum, the project of vulva-photography has been done more comprehensively elsewhere), photos of actual vulvas are never a bad thing.

Why it’s Goopy: Between the infamous jade eggs, nether-region steaming, and the ad for this very Netflix series (featuring GP in a suggestive series of receding pink ovals), vulvas and vaginas are staples of the Goop brand.

A white bronze sculpture of the internal clitoris: Later in the episode, we take a look at a handsome model of the system of female erectile tissue (most of it internal, stretching around the vulva). Naturally, you can buy one for $75. A necklace version has a pink rhinestone on the clit.

Why it’s Goopy: They’ve managed to make something related to vulvas into a luxury good.

Conscious breathing meets cold exposure: Paltrow asks extreme athlete and “Iceman” Wim Hof why he was the “chosen person to discover” his hyperventilated breathing technique—which Hof claims can prevent the skin’s temperature from decreasing in cold water and reduce stress—and give it to the world. But the caveat is that he’s not the person to discover it.
Hof’s breathing techniques are similar to that of g-Tum-mo meditation, a technique originating in sacred Indo-Tibetan spiritual practices, that allows practitioners to raise their body temperatures, among other things. Hof has condensed and repackaged this method. (He also claims he can teach a decades-long practice to novices within 10 minutes.)

Why it’s Goopy: A wealthy white woman overlooks centuries of indigenous tradition and practice to center a white man who is monetizing a bastardized version of said practice.

25 minutes of “snowga”: A spin on traditional yoga, snowga is when you practice in, well yes, the snow. In the same episode mentioned above, participants do a yoga sequence outside with Hof in bathing suits and without shoes. Outdoor winter sports are fine, it’s just best to bundle up if you’re doing anything outside in freezing temperatures. You know, to avoid frostbite and any other litany of issues that can occur when a human being stands outside in the snow barefoot.

Why it’s Goopy: “Snowga” is presented as an unconventional way to alleviate panic attacks, immune disorders, or other issues that may have been resistant to mainstream medical treatment. But…it’s not clear what exact edge doing yoga in the snow has over…just doing yoga, or even doing yoga in the snow while bundled up. This is very on brand with Goop’s penchant for prioritizing trendiness above all else.

A Goop staffer has something that looks like fishing line sewn into her face. Shortly after the Chief Content Officer of Goop announces that the team is going to “try some facial treatments that are a little bit more natural,” in The Health Span Plan, we watch Wendy Lauria, Goop’s VP of marketing, get what’s known as a “thread lift.” A plastic surgeon numbs her face, then uses a long needle to sew four barbed plastic sutures into each of her cheeks, which will dissolve in several months. How is this procedure more natural than fillers? Unclear! Though there is less data showing that thread lifts are safe and effective.

Why it’s Goopy: Face lifts are a pretty run-of-the-mil rich person thing, and a fine thing for a person with money to do, but here they’re packaged under the banner of “natural” (with no real explanation for why).

“The tenets of wellness are free.” These words come out of the CCO’s mouth in the very same episode as the multi-thousand-dollar fishing-line-in-the-face thing. She’s paraphrasing her boss, Gwyneth Paltrow.  Sure, she’s talking about “sleep” and not “making the choice to subsist on McDonald’s,” but…are those choices truly free? They’re certainly easier to make if you’re not poor. Also: the entire conceit of a wellness brand is that wellness can be purchased.

Why it’s Goopy: This goes in the same file as no-make-up make-up looks that Gwenneth favors, and her cookbook that declares It’s All Easy, while assuming you own appliances like a vegetable spiralizer.

A body worker comes in and manipulates the energy fields of Goop staffers: John Amaral, per his website, studied in ashrams in India and acknowledges that his practice is at least in part rooted in ancient wisdom. He’s also a white guy claiming to influence how energy is moving and flowing within the bodies of wealthy, mostly white people.

Why it’s Goopy: Instead of focusing on the roots of the practice, the episode centers on another white person who’s craft depends on the work of indigenous folks. It would have been better, and more informative, to explain where the tenets of Amaral’s work come from.

“As a scientist, I thought there’s something to this.” This is said by Julie Beischel, a woman whose chyron identifies her as having a PhD. It does not mention that it’s in Pharmacology and Toxicology. That’s relevant, because the “this” here is the practice of communicating with dead people. Which she does research as part of her job, but her job is at a Research Center that she founded. Technically, it’s an LLC!

In the same episode, participants in a workshop with medium and psychic Laura Lynne Jackson claim they can see a painting behind an opaque veil based on its energy.

Why it’s Goopy: Goop does not exactly understand the concept of scientific evidence. This isn’t science. If anything, it can be classified as spirituality. Just let it be spiritual, Goop.