Despite the absence of Season 1’s leading lady, Riley Keough, this season of The Girlfriend Experience is definitely expanding its horizons.
The Girlfriend Experience was first released in 2009 as a moderately received Steven Soderbergh film before finding new life at Starz in 2016. Season 1 made waves last year, being touted as “utterly bingeworthy”. Riley Keough’s performance was raved about across the board and she was up for a Golden Globe. Her presence was the unifying powerhouse thread holding that season together. However, Season 2 approaches things a little differently, as this new trailer is apt to point out with a technique as easy as a split screen: there will be parallel storylines.
Season 2 of The Girlfriend Experience follows the lives of Erica Myles (Anna Friel), Anna Greenwald (Louisa Krause), and Bria Jones (Carmen Ejogo). Erica and Anna’s stories intersect during the 2018 US mid-term elections: Erica, a Republican PAC director, and Anna, an escort are caught in the throes of a plotline of politics and seduction. Meanwhile, Bria’s story takes place in New Mexico. She is running from an elusive past, but can’t seem to escape it fully despite starting from scratch.
Soderbergh, who executive produces the show, spoke with Deadline about the show’s “indie” quality and the production team’s ability to push the envelope with the new season. There seems to be a particular glee and indulgence in the distinct split in storylines — emphasizing the anthology format in comparison to the singular narrative centered on Keough in the first season. Such an approach could genuinely allow those who were enthralled by season 1 to better modulate their expectations for such a stark change, keeping everyone on their toes. Soderbergh commended writer-directors Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz for their initiative to fully explore Erica, Anna and Bria’s paralleled lives and figure out the strangest of new plots:
“One is just the concept itself, of splitting the show in half. The second is that when you see what Lodge and Amy both did individually, you know, there’s no universe in which these episodes survive any kind of normal development process. They’re too fucking weird. And the third is – and this came from STARZ, which I thought was a real master stroke – was the idea of airing them in pairs. Because what that does is to really amplify the wild divergence in approaches that both of them took, while at the same time, sharing a sort of common core theme.”
Our interest is definitely piqued — just how weird could the season get? Perhaps the trailer is being purposely deceptive in its political drama/thriller tenets. The new footage already exudes a different vibe compared to the trailer for the first season, shifting from a corporate setting to the political field. Season 2 is looking very House of Cards meets Secret Diary of a Call-Girl, and — like Season 1 — absolutely eerie in the clinical cinematography. According to Soderberg, “[The show] was always designed to be two [seasons per writing/directing team] and out,” so the pressure is on for Kerrigan and Seimetz to get their final chapter right. But if first impressions are anything to go by, I’m actually pretty damn buzzed.
The Girlfriend Experience will return to Starz on November 5.