Were you recently transported back to the year 2012? Have you been having flashbacks of women from your high school messaging you on social media about a cool opportunity to start a small business and be your own #girlboss?
Did your butt cheeks clench when you remembered the $10,000 cost to buy in and fill your home with a massive inventory of “buttery soft” leggings?
Congratulations and condolences! You’ve watched the trailer for LuLaRich, a four-part Amazon Prime docuseries about MLM (multi-level-marketing) clothing company, LuLaRoe.
LuLaRich features Mormon co-founders, Mark and DeAnne Stidham singing their company’s praises juxtaposed with former employees and leggings-slinging retailers.
Tails of faux-feminism, financial ruin, nepotism, references to cults, and excessive events are all teased in the two-minute preview.
For a company that claims to promote the success of women, the most on-the-nose moment occurs when Mark intercepts a question directed at his wife DeAnne.
She is asked about what inspired the empowerment of women for her, and her husband butts in to mansplain. It feels like a bad SNL sketch about mediocre men come to life.
The overarching theme of the LuLaRich series appears to be something we already know to be true—
LuLaRoe is an MLM and MLMs are pyramid schemes that benefit no one but those at the tippy-top.
All of us know at least one MLM distributor peddling products like makeup, cleaning products, essential oils, and more. You probably know even more former distributors.
Most of them are people who were sold a dream scenario, told they can work from home, be their own boss, and be just as successful as someone higher up the pyramid.
Later, they became part of the three-quarters of MLM participants who either make no profit or lost money.
There are people who become successful through their involvement in a multi-level marketing scheme.
But the vast majority of those are people who get in on the ground floor of the company, building an extensive pyramid beneath themselves. LuLaRich teases that the top tier people were all part of the Stidham family, for example, flying on private jets in the name of “work.”
The legality of these companies and their practices are shoddy at best and due in part to loopholes and lobbying groups.
MLM lobbying groups have spent tons of money to make these businesses exempt from laws that were written to protect consumers from their predatory practices.
Distributors who fall victim to these schemes are left with little recourse because the contracts they initially sign often have mandatory arbitration clauses, giving the MLM in question the legal upper hand by keeping them outside of court.
LuLaRich appears to shed light on the fact that many women fell prey to this company’s pyramid scheme.
It speaks to women who sold breastmilk to fund their start up, who lost their homes, and women who suddenly realized – wait a minute – “I think I’m in a cult.”
Annoyance and honestly anger needs to be pointed directly at those sitting on top of MLM pyramids.
I used to be as annoyed as anyone by people I barely talk to hounding me to try the products they were selling, inviting me to shopping parties in their homes, or adding me to “online party” Facebook groups.
The people at the top are the ones pressuring and endorsing heavy-handed sales tactics. They are the ones duping people into financial distress. They are the ones profiting from people wasting years of their lives and winding up worse off than when they started.
One of my biggest frustrations is that there is not an MLM scam on the planet that sells something that either works better than similar products sold for cheaper in stores or works at all.
And that’s because MLMs are not actually selling you a product.
Their goal is to sell you a dream and a lifestyle with no actual intention of you making it a reality.
They use the promise of community and support from people just like you who want you to succeed without any obligation to deliver.
I love true-crime shows as much as the next American woman, so I’ll be glued to my couch when LuLaRich debuts next month.
But what I’m really waiting for is a series where multi-level marketing schemers are actually held accountable for their harmful practices.
Maybe it could be like the Dateline episodes where a man arrives to meet up with a minor they groomed online for sex, only to find out the minor was a 56-year-old cop and they’re being arrested.
The Stidhans and others like them could walk on board for one of their ridiculous LuLaRoe cruises. But instead of a crowd of overhyped women in loud-ass leggings, they’re greeted by handcuffs and the FTC.
You can watch the full two-minute preview here.