Help, I've Been Peak TV'd!

Peak TV Treasure: Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

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LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

NETWORK | A&E

CREATED BY | Leah Remini (King of Queens), with Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman (True Life, Undercover Boss)

NUMBER OF EPISODES | 7 (plus two “Ask Me Anything” specials) in Season 1

EPISODE LENGTH | 60 mins.

PREMISE | Sitcom star Remini, who was brought up in the controversial Church of Scientology and made headlines as she angrily left it in 2013, interviews other former members of the cult-like religion to hear about their (more often than not) harrowing experiences separating from the church. A disclaimer that airs before each episode makes it clear that the church is not participating in the project and “challenges the credibility of the contributors appearing in this program, and their statements;” in fact, Remini often reads, on camera, from the religion’s letters of objection to the series.

If you heard about the docu-series and quickly dismissed it as a pathetic cash-grab on Remini’s part (like I did at first), it’s worth a second look. Each week, the actress — alongside former Scientology mouthpiece Mike Rinder, who left the organization in 2007 — hear stories of families torn apart and lives ruined, mostly by those who participated in the religion’s highest level, known as the Sea Org.

Remini is very much the center of the series, but she allows the interviews — told simply, often haltingly — to be the focus of each episode. The stories are horrifying. Her claw-like nails are amazing. And the series’ choice to use the church’s staunch denials as fodder for discussion only adds to Scientology and the Aftermath‘s appeal.

Most of all, though, Remini genuinely seems to want to help reunite families divided by Scientology. As she promises in an address to the church at the opening of every episode, “You’re not going to continue to lie to people and abuse people and take their money and their lives. If I can stop one, then I’m gonna do it.”

WORTH YOUR TIME IF YOU ENJOY… | The Scientology documentary Going Clear, true-crime series, docu-series that offer peeks at secret and/or hidden societies

IS IT COMING BACK? | Yes. The series was renewed for Season 2 in March.

WHERE CAN I WATCH IT? | Every episode is available on the show’s site, the A&E app and iTunes.