“The convergence of tech and desire seems like an inevitable direction for The Girlfriend Experience, whose past incarnations have juxtaposed upscale sex work with the similarly lucrative labor performed in high-level political and legal professions,” says Judy Berman. “Filmmaker Anja Marquardt, who joined the series after two seasons written and directed by creators Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan, clearly has a fascination with this sort of labor; her 2014 feature She’s Lost Control follows a female psychology grad student who works as sexual surrogate. And in many ways, the character-driven story Marquardt tells is a return to form for a show that excelled most in a debut season focused on a law-student escort played by Riley Keough. Like that character, (Julia Goldani Telles’) Iris is brilliant, beautiful and appears to have her life under meticulously compartmentalized control… until her situation devolves enough to reveal how fragile it was all along. Marquardt spends much of the first half-season setting a mood of eerie, clinical calm. (I was provided with five episodes, out of 10 total.) In apartments and offices whose aesthetics seem to be converging along with their functions, the atmosphere is both luxe and minimalistic: brushed metal surfaces, mammoth glass windows, monastic concrete walls, furniture and clothing in all the bloodless colors of the iPad rainbow. Iris explains mirror neurons—’our ability to perceive what someone’s thinking or feeling’—to a coworker and mirrors become a visual motif. When Iris mirrors the desires of her clients, she becomes a sentient version of the A.I. she’s studying by day. Mechanical eyes as well as human ones use an iris to let in light.”
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