The Vow: Season 1 (2020)


Season 1
The Vow

Critics Consensus

Though The Vow's scope at times exceeds its reach, its empathetic approach to unpacking NXIVM's manipulations and the consequences therein make for necessary, difficult viewing.

81%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 21

72%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 18

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Episodes

Air date: Aug 23, 2020

Mark Vicente and Sarah Edmondson, former NXIVM leaders, describe the dream and mission of the group to build a better world. Bonnie Piesse, Mark's wife, tells him she is worried about the organization and Keith Raniere, NXIVM's leader and Mark's mentor, but Mark believes there must be a misunderstanding, and wonders how tools to make a better, more ethical world could be misused. Series premiere.

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Air date: Aug 30, 2020

After seven years, Bonnie leaves Albany and NXIVM for Los Angeles to make sense of it all. She tries desperately to get through to Mark, who reassures her all is well. Meanwhile, Mark remains loyal to Keith and NXIVM, but a series of phone calls begin to sow doubt within him.

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Air date: Sep 6, 2020

Sarah confides to Mark about DOS, a secret women's group involving "masters" and "slaves." She struggles in her relationships with NXIVM, her best friend and her husband, Nippy, who confronts the organization he's helped grow for 15 years. Sarah and Mark lament how many members they've recruited and question what to do next.

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Air date: Sep 13, 2020

Mark, Bonnie, Sarah and Nippy strategize with Catherine Oxenberg about how to get her daughter, India, out of DOS, even though she wants to stay. "Jane," a former member and India's close friend, describes the appeal of the organization and of DOS, and why she left it all behind.

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Air date: Sep 20, 2020

Catherine believes her daughter is in danger and wants her to come home, but she and the former members are unable to get the attention of the authorities, so they approach the New York Times. While weighing the pros and cons of going on record, Mark reflects on his time at NXIVM.

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Air date: Sep 27, 2020

When they see no action by the authorities, Sarah, Mark, and Nippy contact additional news outlets to provoke outrage and pressure law enforcement to pay attention. Barbara Bouchey, a former board member and early defector, shares her insight into NXIVM and reflects on her time in Keith's inner circle.

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Air date: Oct 4, 2020

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Air date: Oct 11, 2020

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Air date: Oct 18, 2020

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Tv Season Info

News & Interviews for The Vow: Season 1

Critic Reviews for The Vow Season 1

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (12)

"The Vow" should inspire conversation. It just takes a few episodes to get there.

Aug 24, 2020 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

The amazing access to personal stories as they unfolded likely led directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer to err on the side of inclusion, but the repetitive, unedited nature of the series actually diminishes its intended impact.

Aug 21, 2020 | Full Review…

What makes "The Vow" addictive is the filmmakers' obvious depiction of an all too common vulnerability in the modern age, which is a lack of satisfaction, a starvation for community and a profound need to lead a life of purpose and meaning.

Aug 24, 2020 | Full Review…

The Vow does a service to its subjects by humanizing their plight-and to its audience by helping us understand.

Aug 24, 2020 | Full Review…

"The Vow," by contrast, plunges so deep into this bizarre world that it stands apart from the crowd. Even stretched to nine chapters, its immersive look into how cults can flourish delivers, in TV terms, a different kind of manual for success.

Aug 24, 2020 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The measured pacing and focus on NXIVM exposition makes The Vow drag occasionally in its initial episodes. But as this multilayered saga unfolds, that approach becomes an asset.

Aug 24, 2020 | Full Review…

Docu of scandalized cultish self-help group is eye-opening.

Sep 11, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

The Vow eschews expectations and becomes a rich and surprisingly empathetic examination of an often-sensationalized topic.

Aug 31, 2020 | Full Review…

The Vow benefits from access to people like Vicente and Edmondson, plus lots of footage from various NXIVM organizational videos, meetings, and other insightful stuff.

Aug 24, 2020 | Full Review…

It's chilling to witness their clarity as they process their guilt and complicity and The Vow unravels more of NXIVM's dark side.

Aug 24, 2020 | Full Review…

Through keen editing the documentary that also follows an early follower Sarah Edmondson gets incrementally creepier as it continues.

Aug 24, 2020 | Full Review…

There's always room for another documentary about crazed priapic gurus when the story is as compelling, disturbing and bizarre as this one. But it reveals its secrets slowly.

Aug 24, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Vow: Season 1

  • 5d ago
    A well-done look at yet another cult phenomenon. It's mind-boggling how much actual footage comprises this documentary, and I don't mind the pace that some folks seem to be having an issue with, it's like the layers of an onion. Yet another cult, yet another inexplicably entrancing guru that anyone from outside the cult can see through like a clean window. Up to episode 4 now, enjoying the filmic journey, but pffft.... It's harder and harder to feel empathy for a bunch of self-possessed white people of means whose self-indulgence allows them be led down a garden path with pop-psych 101 BS. The way they all claim that what they're doing is going to save the world, and make it all better--- I'm wracking my brain to come up with a way that NXIVM has had any effect on my life whatsoever...
  • 6d ago
    The core problem with the show is that its main subject is also its creator. It's as if "Tiger King" were made by the raspy videographer whose 1000s of hours of footage were destroyed by arson. On the one hand, it's a deeply personal look at the victims of the cult. On the other, the documentary ideal of objectivity and context are completely absent. What's presented reflects a prodigious quantity of tape originally meant for cult propaganda. While this gives us a deep look into insiders' experiences, it also lards the show with extraneous details. Worse, because our guides through NXIVM are not only victims, but also active participants in its malfeasance, any critical inspection of their claims is completely absent. tl;dr The show would have been stellar if its runtime were cut in half, directed by an outside observer who gives context and objective perspective on the cult.
  • Sep 13, 2020
    A fascinating look into how "normal" folks find themselves indoctrinated into a cult; pace is a bit slow.
  • Sep 12, 2020
    Best TV show about recent cults yet. Slow start but getting great now that members realize its all BS. No sex yet even though its media coverage says its a sex cult. They all seem exceedingly naïve and a bunch of space cadets.
  • Sep 07, 2020
    The show that answers the question "How can we make a story about a sex cult as slow and boring as possible?". It has all the entertainment value of an 8 hour MLM meeting held in an office basement. I got through 2 and a half episodes and now I'm considering cancelling my HBO account.
  • Aug 24, 2020
    Scientology + Large group awareness training + neurolinguistic programming + sex cult. Episode 1 sets up the slow burn.

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