Thanks to gritty reality programs like Hoarders and Intervention, A&E has cultivated a reputation over the past decade or so for its willingness to tackle tough issues and dangerous lifestyles. In that spirit, the prostitution documentary series 8 Minutes was a natural fit for the network. Unfortunately, the reception to this newest offering hasn’t been nearly as positive, thanks in part to a scathing expose accusing the show of some despicable behind the scenes practices.
The expose in question comes from Buzzfeed. For the piece, the website spoke with four women who appeared on the show, all of whom allegedly told some variation of the same story. They were supposedly promised resources and help to get out of the life of prostitution in exchange for letting themselves be filmed. Instead, they were allegedly given a few hundred dollars and a phone number for a crisis hotline. Calls supposedly weren’t returned, promises were broken, and because of the negative publicity associated with their appearances, all four women found themselves in worse positions than when they asked for help.
In theory, 8 Minutes is a pretty simple idea. The women expect to meet a client. Instead, they meet a former police officer who provides them with a clear path out of their lives of prostitution during an 8 minute plea. But how exactly does one get out of prostitution? It’s really not very simple at all. It requires money, a job and often a change in location. Anyone offering resources that isn’t prepared to at least fill those three needs isn’t really offering resources at all, and apparently, that’s exactly what happened here.
There’s a difference between a reality show being heavily edited or even partially scripted and being based on an outright misrepresentation. For example: Big Brother is heavily edited. Anyone who watches the live feeds could write an essay on how timelines and conversations can be played with, but at least the basic spirit of people living in a house and scheming for money is legitimate. If these claims are to be believed, 8 Minutes’ basic spirit of existing to help these women is a complete lie.
Here’s how one of the women bluntly described it to Buzzfeed…
They’re full of shit.
A&E hasn’t commented on the budding scandal, and at this point, it’s unclear whether or not the show will return for more episodes. What has been produced is available online. If and when the network decides to comment, we’ll bring that information to you. Until then, here’s to hoping the women at the center of this story are able to get the resources to change their lives and find true happiness and security, in whatever form that might be.