You know that feeling you get when, as part of a long day at work, a supervisor asks you to buy a candy bar or some such nonsense to support a cause they’re passionate about?
Now replace “buy a candy bar” with “pair off with a co-worker to massage each other’s hands or feet while negotiating consent as part of a sensuality workshop” and you have an idea of what it must be like to work for Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s bonkers lifestyle and wellness brand.
The company, surely the wackiest workplace since Dunder Mifflin, is the setting for the gobsmacking new investigative series “The Goop Lab With Gwyneth Paltrow” (Friday, Netflix).
“I would personally love to know a little bit about the trajectory of using psychedelics as a healing modality,” Paltrow says in the premiere. Cut to Elise Loehnen, Goop’s chief content officer, and three other staffers tripping on ’shrooms in Jamaica while giggling, sobbing uncontrollably and being held by relative strangers — for all the Netflix-subscribing world to see.
‘But Netflix legal said no’
Goop was the butt of plenty of jokes earlier this month when it introduced a $75 candle — made with geranium, citrusy bergamot, cedar absolutes, Damask rose and ambrette seed — under the name This Smells Like My Vagina. (Citrusy bergamot? Congrats, Gwyneth!)
To the surprise of virtually everyone, those candles sold out almost immediately, there’s a waiting list, and they’ve sold for as much as $250 apiece on eBay.
Paltrow’s endeavor is so focused on offering up a blend of faddish quackery and New Age-y gobbledygook, if it didn’t already exist, it would have felt right at home as a rival startup on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.”
In a later episode, an assortment of Goop’s starry-eyed hipsters strip down to their swimsuits for 25 minutes of “snowga” — an activity resembling a mix of yoga, tai chi and the Maori war dance known as the haka, all done in the snow — before plunging into the 38-degree waters of Lake Tahoe.
“This is probably the most insane thing I’ve been asked to do for Goop,” declares an associate food editor.
All of that is overseen by Wim Hof, the Dutchman fond of wearing uncomfortably short shorts in any setting, who claims his method of controlled breathing and extreme cold therapy has made him immune to illness, even after he was purposely injected with E. coli.
“It would have been amazing to take the Goop staff and shoot them full of endotoxins,” Loehnen says, “but Netflix legal said no.”
‘Somebody had to’
It isn’t just Goop’s writers who get roped into these escapades. A workshop on developing participants’ skills as psychic mediums even enlists the IT guy. What must that off-camera exchange have been like? “Oh, hi, Ms. Paltrow! Well, I’m actually dealing with some pretty vicious malware right now that could bring down the whole network. But, sure. This seems legit.”
The “Shakespeare in Love” Oscar winner skips out on most of this silliness, preferring instead to interview the “experts.”
In that sensuality episode, she spends plenty of time discussing vulvas with 90-year-old sex educator Betty Dodson. “Shauna, start filming more vulvas,” Paltrow calls out.
That installment also includes footage of Dodson leading Carlin Ross, the CEO of her foundation, through an orgasm in a clinical setting.
“Oh, my God. I can’t believe you did it,” Paltrow exclaims to Ross. “It’s amazing. It’s so brave.”
“Somebody had to,” Dodson attests.
“The Goop Lab” could use some more blunt honesty, like the scene in which Paltrow asks executive editor Kate Wolfson what the chilly waters of Lake Tahoe felt like. “I mean, it feels like jumping into a (expletive) cold lake.”
And it’s crying out for a spinoff set in Goop’s human resources department.
You can almost picture them, a bedraggled team of professionals, never leaving the office, their living quarters connected to the rest of Goop by a fire pole so they can spring into action whenever the various Shaunas need help with their latest indignities.
Despite — or, maybe, because of — its ridiculousness, “The Goop Lab” is plenty entertaining.
That spinoff idea, though? That could prove every bit as popular as those vagina candles.