Written and directed by two brilliant filmmakers – Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz, The Girlfriend Experience airs on the Starz network. The American drama television series follows high-end escorts who provide sexual and emotional connections and relationships for interested clients at steep prices. They essentially deliver all the fun of having a girlfriend with none of the perceived stress. The first season is centered around Christian Reade, played by Riley Keough, a young woman leading a double life: she works as an intern for a law firm as well as an escort to foot the bulk of her bills and lifestyle. The series is based on an earlier film of the same name released in 2009.
It received positive reviews from most corners and Riley’s spectacular TV debut performance earned showers of praise. The series is broad, intricately detailed, and lends a feel of watching more than one show at the same time. It takes on a very delicate subject – sex work – and tackles it in a way that’s insightful, fresh, and not at all derisive of the profession or its workers.
The Girlfriend Experience is a compelling anthology that keeps you glued to your screen, not because of the cliffhangers, but out of genuine excitement to see how the characters and their perplexing complications are resolved. The narrative at its core is about how women seem to be constantly performing some role that society has forced them into, be it professional, sexual, social, or on the emotional front, and what liberation might look like for them. In all, the series is as much a drama about corporate greed, corruption, money, and power as it is a moving tale of women’s sexuality, strife for economic progress, and psychological development.
The Girlfriend Experience Cast
Riley Keough as Christine Reade
Riley made her film debut in 2010 starring opposite Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart in The Runaways. She played the character, Marie Currie. She also featured in Magic Mike, alongside Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum. In 2015, she was part of the ensemble for Mad Max: Fury Road with other A-league actors such as Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy. She also scored a lead role in American Honey starring opposite Shia LaBeouf, and in Peer Pedersen’s The Greens are Gone.
She plays Christine in The Girlfriend Experience, a law student interning at a big law firm who gets into sex work when a friend introduced her to it, but soon finds that she loves the heady control and intimacy the job brings. She has to readjust what she thought she knew about herself and navigate both her worlds to get the most out of them.
Kate Lyn Sheil as Avery Suhr
Kate Lyn is an alumnus of the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. She is known for her roles in the films Knife Point, The Color Wheel, Gabi on the Roof, Green, Silver Bullets, You’re Next, Sun Don’t Shine, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Listen Up Phillip, Equals, and The Heart Machine. On television, she has featured in Outcast and House of Cards.
Her character in The Girlfriend Experience is Christine’s friend and classmate who doubles as an escort and is happy to show her friend the kinks and ropes of the GFE business, but soon gets hit with large bouts of envy upon witnessing Christine’s fast success.
Paul Sparks as David Tells
Paul Sparks is known for portraying Thomas Yates in House of Cards. He has also starred in HBO’s Crime and Boardwalk Empire. The award-winning actor has appeared in Midnight Special, Mud, Stealing Cars, Sparrow’s Dance, Parkland, and Trust me. Some of his stage works include The Killer, Coyote on a Fence, Blackbird, Noble Gases, Orange Flower Water, and Dusk Rings a Bell.
His character, David is a lawyer and partner at the Kirkland & Allen firm. He is Christine’s boss, but they soon develop a relationship that could upend his marriage and derail their careers.
Mary Lynn Rajskub as Erin Roberts
Mary is a writer, actress, and comedienne. She has appeared in 24, 2 Broke Girls, Californication, New Girl, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Mentalist, Raising Hope, The Simpsons, Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, and other television shows.
Erin is a partner at the law firm. She is a brilliant and scheming woman who is both friend and foe to Christine and David.
Amy Seimetz as Annabel Reade
Amy Seimetz is a critically acclaimed actress, director, and writer. She wrote, produced, and directed The Girlfriend Experience with Lodge Kerrigan. She has starred in the movie Lovesong, as well as The Killing, Family Tree, and Upstream Color. She has won several awards for her acting and directorial skills.
Her character, Annabel, is a public defense attorney and Christine’s older sister. She is the link between her home and the past.
Carmen Ejogo as Brianna Jones
Carmen‘s career spans film and television. She is best known for her role as Coretta Scott in Selma. She has also appeared in Sister in Sparkle, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Alien: Covenant, It Comes At Night, Inner City, Born to be Blue, Metro, Love’s Labour Lost, Away We Go, Zero Hour, and Lackawanna Blues.
She stars in The Girlfriend Experience as a former high-end escort who goes into Witness Protection to protect herself from her abusive, criminal boyfriend, but resumes sex work in the hopes of continuing her lavish lifestyle. She soon discovers how dangerous her work and desires can be.
Tunde Adebimpe as Ian Olsen
Tunde is a musician, animator, director, and actor known for his role in Jump Tomorrow, Rachel Getting Married, Nasty Baby, and Night Shift. He also attended the Tisch School of the Arts.
His character, Ian, is a no-nonsense U.S Marshall put in charge of Bria by WITSEC. The two develop a relationship that forces him to break protocol and boundaries to keep her safe.
Anna Friel as Erica Myles
Anna Friel is an excellent actress known for playing the lead role in Marcella, Tomato Red, I.T., American Odyssey, Heavy Water War, Broken. She began acting at the very young age of 13, featuring in a few British television shows. She also has enjoyed a resplendent career in theatre, starring in several productions including Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She has won a number of awards for her performances including a Golden Globe nomination for Pushing Daisies, a comedy series.
Her character Erica is the finance director of RIGHT TO ACTION, and she has been charged with raising money for the upcoming U.S midterm elections. She crosses paths with a GFE escort at the top of her game, Anna, and enlists her service. Things quickly get complicated between them, exposing Erica to vulnerability, instability, and the possibility of getting seriously hurt. Erica has to contend with the personal and professional pressures that seem to be mounting.
Louisa Krause as Anna Garner
Louisa is an award-winning actress popularly known for the characters she played in Young Adult, Bluebird, The Flick, Martha Marcy May Marlene, We’ve Forgotten More Than We Ever Knew, New Money, King Kelly, The Super, Jane Wants a Boyfriend, Ava’s Possessions, The Abandoned, Return, Dog Eat Dog, The Great and The Small, Blue Bloods, and Billions.
Her character, Anna, is a fierce and confident GFE provider, who completely dominates her clients, but finds herself relinquishing control for the first time ever when she becomes entangled with Erica. She shares parts of herself with her that she has never shown anyone before, but soon finds herself spiraling from the shifting nature of the relationship.
Narges Rashidi as Darya Watford
Narges hails from Tehran but moved to Germany to pursue a career in acting. She is one of the most popular actresses in the country, but she broke into the international scene when she starred as the lead character in the film Under the Shadow, which won her a Breakthrough Actress Award at the New York Intl’ Film festival and a British Independent Film Awards nomination for Best Actress.
In The Girlfriend Experience, her character, Darya, is Erica’s ex-girlfriend and communications analyst who works in a lobbying firm. She is manipulative and knows how to get at Erica’s weaknesses better than anyone.
Seasons of The Series
The viewers are introduced to Christine Reade, a Law student who scores an internship at the prestigious Kirkland & Allen law firm. She is struggling to strike the right balance with her workload, classes, and cost of living. She is introduced into the escort business by her friend Avery who links her up with one of her own client’s friends. Using the name Chelsea Rayne, Christine begins working as a high-end escort providing GFE, the girlfriend experience, a series of sexual and nonsexual services that allow clients to achieve sexual and emotional satisfaction. Things get a lot harder when Christine decides to break away from Avery’s manager and strike out on her own. She soon discovers corruption at her firm and how easy it is for her escort clients to cross boundaries.
Titled Erica & Anna/Bria, this follow-up season intrigued with two new and parallel narratives. One is set in New Mexico, where Bria Jones, a former high-end escort enters into Witness Protection with her estranged stepdaughter after she volunteers to testify against her criminal ex-boyfriend. However, she soon finds the life too boring for her tastes and longs to return to her old life as an escort, a decision which threatens her and her stepdaughter’s new identity as well the life of the U.S Marshal charged to protect her.
The other story takes place in Washington D.C. and follows Erica Myles, finance director of a Republican super PAC, and Anna Garner a GFE escort. Erica recruits Anna and her services to help her blackmail a high-ranking dark money donor so she can reach her fundraising goal.
Is the Show Cancelled or Renewed?
At the moment, no concrete decisions have been made regarding the fate of The Girlfriend Experience. Although the ratings are impressive enough to sustain hopes of the series returning for a third season. Neither the network, Starz, nor the directors of the show have announced possible plot directions for a new season, indicating that the show is yet to be renewed. In the same vein, there is no news about the show being canceled yet, so we’ll be keeping our ears to the ground.