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In today's video, Chelsea airs her grievances with the new LulaRoe documentary "Lularich" on Amazon prime, diving into a piece of MLM culture that we need to talk about more.

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Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea, and this week's video is brought to you by my visceral disgust at having to look at LuLaRoe leggings for four hours. As you can tell by our title, thumbnail, and intro today, I'm just going to be giving you my essentially unfiltered rant after having watched the four-part Amazon LuLaRoe documentary, LuLaRich, all in one sitting last night.

Anyone who's watched even a second of TFD knows how we feel about MLMs, which is badly, negatively. We don't stan. And LuLaRoe, for anyone who was near Facebook over the past six years, has been one of the most ubiquitous MLM offenders.

At least Rodan + Fields makes an attempt to make their skin care products look chic. What the fuck are these leggings? For those who may not know, though, an MLM is essentially a hair's breath away from a pyramid scheme and many would argue have basically no real differences, but the theory is that the organization forms a pyramid shape in which people make money by bringing in other people underneath them to represent the company, usually having exorbitant startup fees or having to buy a ton of inventory.

The money is generally not actually made from selling their goods or services. It's made from roping other people into the scheme. But if you want any more information on what MLMs are, who they're targeting, why they're everywhere on your Instagram depending on your demographic makeup, we'll link you in the description to some of our greatest hit videos on the subject.

But I want to talk specifically about this documentary, LuLaRoe itself, and what I feel is a pretty under-explored aspect of the MLM phenomenon. The LuLaRich documentary essentially takes us from the origins of this company all through what it is currently at now, which basically appears to be a husk of its former self that is being sued every which way from Sunday, I can't imagine has much of a functional staff left, but somehow keeps posting their atrocious clothes on Instagram. So I guess, go, girl.

Give us nothing. The main characters in this documentary are the co-founding couple who we find out are Mormons-- not shocked-- give us big Wendi McLendon-Covey circa Reno 911! energy and Glenn Beck if he went through the machine in The Fly with a beat. They drop the fact that they have 14 children-- OK-- and that two of them are married to each other.

Good for them. They also give us a pretty twisty-turny origin story for the company that, when contrasted with the actual depositions that they had to give in some of their lawsuits, seems to be extremely sus. The wife in the couple insists that she started this kind of by accident because people just loved those ugly skirts she was making.

But when you find out shortly thereafter that both of them, as well as several of their family members, had long been involved in various MLMs of their own, you realize that it was probably a pretty active choice and she knew what she was doing when she started looping other people to sell her skirts for her. But no matter how it actually started, LuLaRoe quickly, between the years of about 2014 to 2016, exploded in popularity and growth to the point that they had, at one time, over 100,000 consultants representing their brand. Those are basically the freelance retailers who buy the inventory that they can then not offload because who the fuck wants to be wearing these leggings?

The story arc of the documentary is one that's not terribly surprising if you're at all familiar with any anti-MLM content. And while I did briefly discuss this phenomenon in my podcast episode with queen of anti-MLM and general internet culture TiffanyFerg-- love her, highly recommend you check out that interview-- I think, in light of this documentary, this particular aspect is really worth exploring. The couple is framed as the villains of the story, and it's not surprising why.

Everything points to the idea that they absolutely knew what they were doing. And the fact that they offloaded about 100% of the important and actually legitimate jobs to their extremely suspect and borderline nonfunctional children, you don't really have any pity for them. And let's be clear.

Even while talking about all of the various lawsuits they're drowning in and cutting to and from the consultants who are filing for bankruptcy, the wife DeAnne in this couple is giving her interview while wearing a pair of signature Valentino heels. So sure, they're evil, their family's evil, even their weird nephew for whom we had to suffer both through a high school musical theater production and him having to detail the weed Ponzi scheme he tried to rope all of the former LuLaRoe consultants into, yes, all of them can go into the garbage. But I found that this documentary had a similar dynamic to the one that I experienced while watching the HBO NXIVM documentary.

For those who haven't seen it, please watch it. It is such an enjoyable several hours even with all of its flaws. Basically, if we can think about MLMs through the same prism that we think about cults, which I think is an extremely apt comparison, especially when you consider how difficult they make it for people to leave and how much they insist that current members never speak to or in any way interact with former members, we start to see that the line between who is a victim and who is a predator is extremely blurry.

And like in the NXIVM documentary where our two protagonists were people who both clearly got filthy rich by exploiting and entrapping other young vulnerable women and aspiring actors, the most exploitable group, you got the feeling that many of the women we are watching expose the overall scheme are themselves nearly as culpable as the founders, especially when you start moving up the hierarchy and look at women who made literally seven figures by roping thousands of women underneath them. The idea that they could be framed at some level as whistleblowers or righteous victims or people speaking truth to power in some capacity is, quite frankly, a little offensive. And even as you move down the line, even the women who had some of the most compelling stories ultimately made it several years in the company only by exploiting and entrapping other women underneath them.

And these women were quick to point out that, hey, I was a single mom. Hey, I was a military spouse. Hey, I wasn't able to make ends meet, which they use to sort of amp up their victim status in the dynamic, but fail to mention that all of the other women that they knowingly roped into such a losing proposition were in those exact same situations.

In my conversation with TiffanyFerg, I address the issue that I think one of the biggest problems and why MLMs continue to thrive, and in fact, have grown substantially since COVID is because we refuse to hold accountable so many of the people who, yes, on some level were victims, but the day they stayed in the company and started bringing other people in became just as culpable perpetrators. There is no shortage of anti-MLM content out there. Yes, this documentary is probably one of the biggest and most splashy examples of the genre and is bound to reach a lot of people who are outside of the world of bad shit happening on the internet, which happens to be my favorite topic.

But if you Google essentially any individual MLM, any of the business practices or models or just the concept itself, there is an overwhelming and overwhelmingly available amount of information on why these things are bad, why you are almost guaranteed to lose money, and why the only way you will even be able to hope for survival financially yourself is by essentially throwing other vulnerable women under the bus. I mentioned queen TiffanyFerg, but even lovable chimney sweep John Oliver has done an entire segment on these. The point is it is 2021.

There is no shortage of information here. And while I understand that vulnerable people getting roped into dubious financial schemes is a tale as old as time, the fact that we continue to extend victimhood status to people who are essentially The Ring-ing each other and showing each other the video that's going to kill them so that they don't get killed is part of the problem. There are many women in the documentary who clearly suffered financially but also are not fucking victims and should honestly be part of the takedown.

And it's tough to draw the line, right? If you recruit one unknowing woman into getting roped into the scheme so you might have a chance for survival, are you then more of a perpetrator than a victim? Maybe.

If you do it to hundreds of women, are you more a perpetrator? I would say absolutely, yes. But we really haven't reached that place in our discourse yet.

In doing research for videos on all kinds of topics like consumerism, internet culture, or even MLMs, I have an Explore page on Instagram that is full to the brim of women who are still to this day engaging in all kinds of MLM-type organizations. These are women who market themselves as career coaches or wellness authorities despite no credentials, or exercise gurus or oracles on all things organic mommy-dom. The point is the phenomenon of women at home making money by roping other women into terrible financial propositions is by no means slowing down.

And yet, when you look in the comments of these various extremely popular accounts, you'll see that the number of people who actually take them to task on the realities of what they're doing to other women with their, quote unquote, "businesses" is very limited. We've not yet reached a place in the discourse where we're ready to hold people accountable who are, yes, at some level, victims, but also very much in the process of being predators. You walk away from this documentary feeling like the real monsters in this story are the couple and all of their grotesque children, and maybe, yes, the atrocious prints on the clothes.

But you also walk away giving a pretty damn free pass to all of the women in this documentary who knowingly and intentionally perpetrated this affliction on others. And I submit that the real reckoning with MLM culture is not going to come until the people who are midstream, who are presenting themselves as career coaches and aspirational startup gurus are being taken to the fucking mat in their own Instagram comments. Hop on their lives.

They can't delete those in real time. If more people see this documentary and become aware of the dangers of MLMs, it's a good thing. But if people see it and think that this problem is localized to companies like LuLaRoe or that the singular bad guys in the narrative are the founders, then we're likely just to keep seeing this problem growing as it has post-COVID.

Those are just my two cents on what was otherwise a very entertaining documentary. PS, Kelly Clarkson is canceled. As always, guys, thank you for watching and don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos.