One of the most intriguing new series to hit the airwaves this midseason is The Arrangement, which debuted on E! on March 5. The show follows movie star Kyle West and his attempts to revamp his image with a contract marriage to a talented young actress. He is advised by Deann and Terence Anderson, who have connections to the self-help organization known as the Institute of the Higher Mind. Viewers have already noted that the Institute of the Higher Mind seems to have a lot of similarities to the Church of Scientology. CinemaBlend recently spoke with Arrangement star Lexa Doig, and she had this to say about whether the show was deliberately connecting to Scientology:
Not at all. It's interesting because I remember when I first got hired to do the show having a conversation with Jonathan Abrahams, who's the creator of the show, where I kind of cracked a joke. I'm like, 'So if I sign on to do this show are these guys gonna come after me?' And his whole take on it was like, 'No, not at all. I can tell you honestly from my personal experience as the creator of the show, that's actually not the inspiration or the starting point for the show.' I completely understand why people make those associations, and it is obvious. I do think to a certain degree Jonathan was inspired by the idea of a contract marriage, which has existed in Hollywood.
Lexa Doig plays Deann on Arrangement, and her character has a unique perspective on the proposed arranged marriage between Kyle West and young Megan Morrison. As Kyle's producer, she doesn't always see 100% eye to eye with her husband, who is the leader of the Institute of the Higher Mind and has his own thoughts about Kyle's contract for Megan. The concept of a contract marriage between an actor with a tarnished public image and a young actress undoubtedly sounds familiar to any who kept up with the stories about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' marriage, which rumor had it was arranged by the Church of Scientology.
Evidently creator Jonathan Abrahams was driven by the concept of the Hollywood contract marriage in general, not by the rumors that circulated about Scientology and Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes. Given how the Church of Scientology reacted to Leah Remini's TV series about her experiences as a longtime member, I can understand why Lexa Doig would wonder how the Church would react if The Arrangement intentionally targeted them.
According to Lexa Doig, the modern Southern California setting of The Arrangement played a part in the development of the Institute of the Higher Mind. She went on to tell me this about how the Institute was born:
The thing about Los Angeles too, there's a ton of these sort of self-help kind of organizations...that on the surface are actually very helpful to people. There's nothing inherently wrong or negative about the teachings they have to give or the advice that they have to give. Where it becomes a bit dodgy is where in order to progress, in order to get better you have to make more money. You have to pay more money and you have to get more people to come in. Then it becomes a bit muddy and I think that's kind of more or less what the Institute of the Higher Mind is about. It's how something that maybe started off as being genuinely and altruistically designed to help people has, with the more money that it's made and the more power that somebody like Terence Anderson, Michael Vartan's character, the more power that he wields, he's become corrupted a bit.
Clearly, any similarities between the Institute of the Higher Mind and Scientology are not intended to be read as deliberate. The culture of self-help organizations in Los Angeles is what led to the creation of the Institute and Terence Anderson's rise to power. Contract marriages and self-help groups existed before The Arrangement debuted and before Scientology made headlines; the new show apparently means to tackle the issues in general, not the stories surrounding Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and the Church of Scientology. The Arrangement can stand on its own, and going by what Lexa Doig had to say about the series, I'd say that it should be pretty interesting in the rest of the first season.
Tune in to E! on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET to see Lexa Doig as Deann Anderson in The Arrangement, and don't forget to check out our midseason TV premiere schedule to see what else is available on the small screen nowadays. If you're a fan of streaming video as well, be sure to take a look at our 2017 Netflix premiere schedule.