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It’s difficult not to be immediately transfixed by the late Gwen Shamblin in HBO's The Way Down

  • "At first glance, The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin seems like a true crime saga that’s too wild to be true," says Kayla Cobb of the HBO docuseries. "In the 1980s, the late Shamblin created the Weigh Down Workshop, a weight loss program that convinced many women that the number on their scales was somehow correlated to their faith in Christianity. That’s an insane premise even if you don’t take into account Shamblin’s jaw-droopingly high hair dos. But while The Way Down will grip you, the reason why feels unintentionally unfocused. Marina Zenovich’s five-episode docuseries seeks to expose the poisonous underbelly of a church-based weight-loss movement that ruined the lives of many women. That harrowing saga just so happens to have a deeply distracting figure as its central subject. It’s difficult not to be immediately transfixed by the late Shamblin. There’s the superficial reason why. As The Way Down skips from Shamblin’s early years with her weight-loss workshop the Weigh Down to more recent footage, her hair only seems to grow. At one point the docuseries shows footage from Shamblin while she’s giving her testimony to police. It’s nearly impossible to focus on the shocking accusations coming out of her mouth due to her gravity-defying hair. That’s just the tip of the 'what is happening' iceberg when it comes to this particular leader."

    TOPICS: The Way Down, HBO, Documentaries