The Family Review: Who Really Controls Power in Washington, D.C.?

August 9, 2019
Jonathon Wilson 5
Netflix, TV Reviews
3.5

Summary

A fascinating look at a string-pulling organization who might control much more of America than you’d like to think.

3.5

Summary

A fascinating look at a string-pulling organization who might control much more of America than you’d like to think.

The question of who really controls global power is an old one, and rarely satisfactorily answered. What is ostensibly representative democracy is believed by many to be performative; our “elected” leaders puppets on strings being tugged by enigmatic power brokers in smoky boardrooms. It sounds ridiculous. And it might be. But Netflix’s new five-part docuseries The Family suggests otherwise.

Directed by Jesse Moss, and adapted from the same-titled nonfiction bestseller by Jeff Sharlet, who also serves as an executive producer, The Family sheds light on a secretive Christian organization known as the Fellowship, operating in Washington, D.C. and controlling networks of power to influence world events. Sponsoring the National Prayer Breakfast is one thing — The Family posits a much wider level of worldwide meddling, with their strict theology determining the rights of people who believe themselves to be free.

Sharlet’s research and books are mined for details on the Family. He’s a focal point of the series, in which he’s interviewed and functions as a kind of inside-man narrator, guiding the audience through his first encounter with the organization, told in dramatic reenactments. As he’s pretty much the foremost expert on the subject, these documentarian techniques help to fill in the gaps where research doesn’t exist or the right expert testimony isn’t available. This is, by definition, a clandestine subject, and the series has a sense of puzzle pieces being assembled and slotted together, each a part of a greater whole.

But the story isn’t just told from the outside looking in. Members of the Family also speak on camera, giving the docuseries an air of real behind-the-curtain exposure. As ever with such a piece of filmmaking, the key question is whether an audience believes its claims. The Family is compelling in its account and faintly terrifying in its implications, which I suppose is the point. There will inevitably be supporters and detractors, both as virulent as each other. Again: That’s the point. But asking questions, especially about the systems we hold most sacred, is not a bad idea.

5 thoughts on “The Family Review: Who Really Controls Power in Washington, D.C.?

  • August 9, 2019 at 6:01 pm
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    It is confusing that you gave a 3.5 rating when your review shows nothing negative about the documentary.

  • August 12, 2019 at 12:19 am
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    The show makes a mountain out of a molehill. It’s a waste of time. The Fellowship has no real power in DC. This is an anti Christian scare show.

  • August 13, 2019 at 11:19 am
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    It was okay until the last episode. That guy from Portland who wouldn’t shut up literally made me turn it off.

  • August 18, 2019 at 5:08 am
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    This was a complete waste of time, and I wish I could go back to a time where I scrolled right past it. I love watching conspiracy theory shows, but this “documentary” (aka propganda) was incapable of connecting any dots. It was lacking in information and left me with more questions after every episode. Do yourself a favor and pick a different show, don’t waste your time.

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