TV Review: Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal – 5/10

‘It was a beautiful marriage but it was also monotonous…’

We know what to expect from a Netflix documentary by now. It’ll be sordid, sleazy and seductive. It’ll spotlight the most bombastic people involved. It’ll use clever editing to make it clear who the heroes and villains are. And most of all, it’ll definitely be too long. Welcome to Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal

Here’s Wikipedia: ‘In July 2015, an unknown person or group calling itself “The Impact Team” announced they had stolen the user data of Ashley Madison, a commercial website billed as enabling extramarital affairs’. Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal examines the aftermath of this hack through the eyes of employees, journalists and Sam and Nia Rader – a seemingly happy married couple who were caught up in the scandal. The fact they are also prominent vloggers perhaps explain the focus on them over the many others affected.

While the intricacies of the hack and the mere existence of a website encouraging people to cheat on their spouses is fascinating stuff, this documentary never really provides answers about either of those elements and instead is content to focus on the fallout. Some of it is very sad (one man commits suicide), some of it is grimly predictable (the revelation that most of the men on the site were interacting with fake profiles and bots) but what’s not in doubt is that this story could easily have been told across one feature length episode rather than three 45 minute entries. There simply isn’t enough story here to justify almost three hours of footage.

Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal is competently made and has moments of intrigue but it does nothing to stand out in a crowded field. Read the Wikipedia entry instead.