Gwyneth Paltrow gets a lot of credit for winning an Oscar at the age of 26, naming her daughter after a fruit, turning a whole generation of fitness freaks on to Tracy Anderson, convincing people to insert jade eggs into their vaginas, and having incredibly silky hair. I’ll concede that these accomplishments are impressive, but I’ll also make the case that due credit is not being given for what is perhaps Gwyneth’s most impressive accomplishment to date: convincing Goop’s human resources department to sign off on letting her employees take magic mushrooms in the middle of Jamaica on an episode of television that would be streamed on Netflix for millions to see. Among other things.
Indeed, much has been said about the new Goop x Netflix reality show The Goop Lab. Some were surprised by how much they loved it. Others compared it to an unsettling form of spon-con. My own ability to assess whether it constituted good entertainment has been impeded by a burning question, one intermingled with feelings of curiosity, amusement, delight, and zsrigha;khg.abwef (that’s a synonym for WHAT THE HECK): How would I react if one of my dearly beloved coworkers removed their shoes and socks, rolled up their pants, lifted their bare calf onto a table next to me, and asked me to massage it while they issued gentle instructions in an effort to get in touch with their sexual agency?
This precise scenario actually transpires on the third episode of The Goop Lab, wherein a handful of Goop employees meet with a sexuality coach-slash-doula and engage in various activities with her guidance. Personally, I think I would be squeamish, partially because I don’t like feet and partially because every time I sat next to this hypothetical colleague in a pitch meeting I would be thinking about their oiled-up calves, but maybe that’s just me. That being said, I have to give the Goop employees props–not only did they volunteer for the activity in the first place, but they also took it very seriously. Minimal giggles. Maximum earnestness. I hope they each got a raise.
And look, I can see Goop’s human resources feeling relatively fine about the massage thing, as long as the participants were all consenting adults, but let’s return to the magic mushrooms, because that’s where I surmise things got a little dicey. Perhaps even a little litigious! Taking magic mushrooms in Jamaica (where they have never been made illegal and are openly sold) is one thing, but taking magic mushrooms with your coworkers and HAVING THE WHOLE THING RECORDED FOR NETFLIX is quite another. I’m dying to know how the initial conversation transpired…
Gwyneth: I’d like to send some Goop employees to Jamaica to trip on psilocybin mushrooms for my new Netflix show!
Head of Goop HR: [REDACTED SAFE WORD].
Needless to say, permissions were ultimately granted and waivers were undoubtedly signed, which is how four Goop staffers–including Chief Content Officer Elise Loehnen–found themselves lying on yoga mats in a jungle hut, tripping out of their minds.
“This is not a typical workplace experience,” Elise says afterward, thus securing the award for Biggest Understatement of the Year. “Although I kind of wonder if it wouldn’t be incredibly therapeutic for workplace teams if you felt really safe and wanted to become even more intimate and connected with the people you spend the majority of your day with.”
Would a simple happy hour at a local margarita joint engender a similar outcome? Perhaps. Nonetheless, was I genuinely endeared watching the participants process their emotions whilst trained mushroom therapists cradled them in their arms, occasionally interrupting mid-feverish murmur to pat them on the chest and say, “Good work”? Absolutely.
And yet, I’m still dying to talk about this aspect of the show–”this” being the fact that the making of it was probably an HR nightmare, and therefore worthy of recognition for that feat alone. Alert the Emmy Awards committee!!!! It’s arguably a more powerful indicator that anything is possible when Gwyneth Paltrow ordains it than any number of the other eye-opening moments that transpire across the six episodes. And that’s saying a lot, considering that “orgasming in front of a camera crew” and “jumping in a freezing cold lake wearing only a bikini” are included in that canon.
So can we talk about it? Pretty please? Let’s start off the conversation with a simple question: What would you say if your employer asked you if you wanted to go to Jamaica to take magic mushrooms while being filmed for a TV show that your mom, grandmother, and everyone who follows you on LinkedIn could someday watch? Bonus points if you weigh in and happen to work in HR.
Photos via Netflix.