Netflix’s latest documentary The Family is an unnerving, chilling expose of the Fellowship, an organization with only one goal in mind: to rule the world. Based on books written by author and executive producer Jeff Sharlat, The Family Season 1 takes us through the ranks of this hidden organization from top to bottom. The Family revolves around a network, or as they say in the show, ‘rings’ of power, the center being Jesus Christ and the outer rings each belonging to other members of various prestige known as the ‘chosen’. The unsettling arrangement involves a cult-like mentality that invites young men to obey and submit to their elders in the hopes of climbing the treasured ranks.
Using a combination of re-enactment, media exerts and actual footage, The Family Season 1 tells a fascinating story that will truly leave viewers uncomfortable. To put the Family into a few words is almost impossible with the far-reaching connections and relations, The Family demonstrates an organization that is almost uncomprehending. Audiences are taken on a journey to discover what it takes to be part of such a community, from Sharlat’s own experiences we get to know first hand how the system works. Sharlat explains from the very beginning how he became so involved in such a creepy and power-hungry world. The first episode shows how Sharlat was instated in a Frat type environment, created to almost groom and mold young minds to gain characteristics favorable to the organization and its goals.
The shocking nature of the documentary is found through the sheer disregard the organization has for anyone but themselves. A misogynistic, racist and homophobic agenda that literally takes pride in their supremacist utilitarian ideologies. What is more concerning is how the Fellowship believes themselves to be God’s chosen ones, in a cult-like fashion they believe themselves to be part of the divine as they reject a god loves all approach for the much less humbling ‘God does not preach equally’. The delusional and alarming value they place on their importance is startling as one member compares the 12 young members in his cell to Jesus’s 12 disciples. Along with this, the group believes their status gives themselves a ridiculous level of protection, making them unaccountable to heinous crimes. This is shown as one elder member distressingly explains to his newfound followers that even if they raped 3 little girls, he would not think they were bad people, they would not be judged as they are god’s chosen ones.
The movement of the group is sold as a religious community intended to bring people around the world together through unity and faith. On the other hand, it is clear to see that the group are an anti-democratic movement created to manipulate and will the leaders of the world to make decisions on their own behalf. At one point throughout the series, one memorable leader consistently compares the organization to the Nazis, Al Qaeda and other notable horrific leaderships. The worrisome thing about these comparisons (if they weren’t troubling enough) is how the focus is not on the group’s evil doings or terrorist ways but rather how the Fellowship can do the same but better. Again the Fellowship’s delusions are truly similar to those expressed by the groups they reference themselves as they encourage same race relations and villainize those of differing religions. The Fellowship even go as far as to applaud a soldier from another country who offered his own mother as a demonstration of his loyalty as he lay her on a table before his leaders and decapitated her.
Overall The Family Season 1 left a sour taste in my mouth as I watched a group of white men parade around in glory, organizing meetings disguised as prayer breakfasts in order to share and pat the backs of leaders who expressed the same ideologies: ones of hate and discrimination. The value of women is barely mentioned until Sharlat explains a female was only good for one thing and that was to serve the men in their lives. A disgusting collection and example of the far-right, The Family is truly provocative and controversial in its content. Watch with caution as you may feel as aggravated as I at the obnoxiousness as re-enactments play out scenarios that are sure to get under your skin. In the end, it is supposed to be alarming and rightly so, take the time to watch as you find out who really has the power and know the identity of the men behind the green curtain.