Steven Soderbergh's well-reviewed 2009 film The Girlfriend Experience is getting the Starz treatment with a forthcoming TV adaptation, starring Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road) as a second-year law student making money as a high-end escort. As Christine Reade, Keough takes a deep dive into the world of GFEs with a character that’s refreshingly unapologetic about her sex life. Co-showrunners Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz, in a new interview with Variety, described the series as just the latest victory in "the TV arena" that now repeatedly bests cinema in terms of expansive storytelling.
"Christine is intoxicated by her life as a GFE," Kerrigan says of Christine's journey. "She is drawn to the rush of walking into a room and meeting somebody for the first time. The rush of taking control of the situation." However, Kerrigan notes, that rush also inspires something else: "Everything is really on her terms, and she becomes addicted to that power." Keough echoes that sentiment regarding her character, praising Christine's willingness to "define herself rather than letting people define her."
The Girlfriend Experience, executive produced by Soderbergh, also presents another exciting opportunity for modern storytellers to truly explore the intricacies of their characters outside the traditional boundaries of a film. "I think of the TV arena now as the old studios, where directors were given assignments, and you go off and you direct," Kerrigan says, specifically referencing the "real continuity" of the series format. "And so if I can direct six episodes a year, I’m getting six hours of experience, whereas in the film world, you spend two or three years trying to raise more money."
Soderbergh's original film starred Sasha Grey using a budget-friendly camera with visual nods to Ingmar Bergman and other auteurs. The late Roger Ebert, in his extensive review of the film, praised Grey’s ability to "perfectly convey both her hope and her disappointment," ultimately giving the film a four-star co-sign. Thankfully, the Starz remake is keeping that vision alive by making Christine a refreshing force of open sexuality. "She's open about liking sex," Keough told Bustle in February. "She walks up to the guy in the bar and says, 'I wanna fuck you,' in like the first 5-10 minutes of the show. This character is unapologetic about sex, which I haven't seen on TV before."
The Girlfriend Experience, in 13-episode series form, premieres via Starz on April 10.