In 2018, the story broke that former Smallville actress Allison Mack was arrested for her involvement in an alleged “sex cult” known as NXIVM. For years, rumors had swirled about Mack’s ties to the mysterious self-help group, but the allegations were just that, rumors. However, following her arrest and the trial that followed, it became clear that the rumors were more accurate than anyone could’ve imagined.
As the bizarre court case unfolded, Mack not only admitted to trying to recruit Harry Potter star Emma Watson into the alleged sex cult, but Mack also took credit for one of the more salacious NXIVM rituals: Branding the pubic region of the groups’ “slaves.” Considering Mack revealed this information to the New York Times while facing trial, it wasn’t exactly a surprise when she pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts.
Of course, the larger question is how did Mack, whose Smallville co-stars described her as a genuinely warm, sweet, and smart person, fall into a wild cult with alleged ties to human trafficking and sexual slavery? That’s where HBO’s The Vow comes in. In a new teaser focusing on NXIVM’s promises of overcoming fear and living to your full potential, the documentary promises an in-depth look at Keith Raniere, the man responsible for the self-help group’s formation and descent into abuse and manipulation that ensnared Mack and others before becoming the target of law enforcement.
Here’s the official synopsis:
THE VOW follows a range of people who joined the self-improvement group, NXIVM. The organization has been under siege, with various charges including sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy brought against its highest members – most notably founder Keith Raniere, who was convicted in June 2019 and is currently awaiting sentencing. The series takes a deep, nuanced look at the experiences of a number of people deeply involved in NXIVM over the course of several years. Amidst claims by NXIVM participants of both profound transformation and devastating abuse, the series, like Noujaim and Amer’s previous films, seeks to reveal the issues behind the headlines and explore the emotional toll of unfolding events on these individuals.
The Vow premieres August 23 on HBO.