There can’t be many worse things for a parent than having your child run off 3,000 miles to join a sex slave cult/Ponzi scheme, but that’s exactly what happened to former Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg. Oxenberg got through to the other side of her nightmare with a relatively happy ending and decided to dedicate much of her time to preventing such things from happening to others and to help those who have found themselves in such a mess. As part of these efforts, she wrote a memoir, Captive, and served as executive producer on the made-for-TV film adaptation Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter.
Escaping the NXIVM Cult tells the story of how Oxenberg unwittingly introduced her own daughter, India, to the Albany-based cult. To her credit, Oxenberg smelled a rat pretty quickly and tried to get India to leave with her, but the kid wouldn’t budge, she thought she was really learning a lot.
Eventually, Oxenberg grows more and more worried and when she gets a call from a concerned cult member that India desperately needs saving, Oxenberg springs into action, contacting the FBI and the New York Times and appearing on every TV and radio talk show that will have her.
Watching the story unfold, some questions are hard to ignore:
- How on Earth is it that everyone whom Catherine Oxenberg meets turns out to be a huge Catherine Oxenberg fan? Look, this is not to demean or denigrate her contributions to Western culture, but they are limited in scope. She had previously been best known for her work on Dynasty as Amanda Carrington, the daughter of Alexis Colby (Joan Collins) and Blake Carrington (John Forsythe). She appeared on the show for two seasons in the mid-eighties before leaving over a salary dispute. Since then she’s appeared in more than two dozen made-for-TV movies, which ain’t nothing, but is hardly the makings of Oxenberg-Con.
- How do people ignore the giant red flags that NXIVM leader Keith Raniere displays? The dude cheats at volleyball (watch Mark’s face when Keith insists a ball is out of bounds, that call was total BS) and kisses all his female associates on the mouth. Maybe you could miss or overlook the cheating, but the kissing? C’mon… He also explains to his followers, mostly women, that men are more loyal than women, his proof being that when a man cheats he will subsequently go back to his wife, but when a woman cheats she goes off with the new man — has this dude ever seen a Lifetime movie? Men leave their wives for other women, like, all the time.
- How dense do you have to be to not see NXIVM is a cult? This question could be asked about every movie ever made about cults, but the question stands. For the love of God, Raniere (played by Twilight star Peter Facinelli) is such an obvious charlatan that when India’s tween sisters watch videos of him they found online, the older one looks at the younger one and says “I think she’s in some kinda cult.”
- Finally, is that Green Acres star Eddie Albert you briefly see flashing across a TV screen in one scene of the movie? Why, yes, yes it is. In addition to Green Acres, Albert starred in Roman Holiday, Oklahoma!, and The Longest Yard, but one role that doesn’t appear on his IMDb page is that of spokesman for an early promotional video for NXIVM.
Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter premieres 8pm ET Saturday on Lifetime; You can also catch Roman Holiday on-demand via Starz.