TV Tango Search

Search

|              FREE: Ask a TV Expert
   TelevisionCakeAd

The Vow

The Vow

Vow_241x208
  • Premiered: 
    August 23, 2020
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: HBO
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Crime
  • Tags: cult

Buy This Show on DVD or Watch Online

No DVDs Available
(That We Know Of)
Legal Full Episodes
Not Available Online
(That We Know Of)

Plot Synopsis

Directed and executive produced by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, THE VOW is a nine-episode documentary series that explores the world of the controversial self-improvement group NXIVM, which disintegrated with criminal charges brought against its highest members. By following a range of people who joined NXIVM, the series spotlights their universal desire for personal growth and their internal conflicts over events as they unfold. NXIVM was founded in 1998 by Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman. Within a few years, the company grew into an influential, international organization with thousands of members, including accomplished executives, Hollywood stars, wealthy heirs and the children of political dynasties. Amidst claims by NXIVM participants of both profound transformation and devastating abuse, the series reveals the complicated truths behind the sensational headlines - a signature of Noujaim and Amer's previous films. It explores the emotional toll of unfolding events on individuals who hoped to lead better lives and change the world with Raniere's espoused humanitarian philosophy. The series illuminates how members were drawn to NXIVM's ethical mission and promise. THE VOW takes viewers inside NXIVM, seen through the lens of former members who had dedicated their lives to the organization. The project was personal for Noujaim, who, in 2010, attended Executive Success Programs, NXIVM's flagship seminar, and explored making a film about the experience. Over the years, she kept in touch with the people she'd met. In 2017, whispers of a controversial secret sorority emerged, and several high-ranking members defected. Noujaim and Amer began filming, not knowing where the story would lead. Controversial reports had emerged as early as 2003, but in 2017, New York Times ran a story with disquieting revelations about a secret, female-only sect called DOS, derived from a Latin acronym meaning "Master of Obedient Women." Initiates were required to ensure their dedication by handing over incriminating "collateral" to their "master." Then, in a ceremony, some were branded as a symbol of their commitment. By 2019 Raniere was convicted of crimes including racketeering, sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, identity theft, and production and possession of child pornography. He awaits sentencing, which is expected this fall. THE VOW takes a journey deep inside the world of people who devoted their life to NXIVM's mission, clarifying the powerful draw of Raniere and the organization. With devastating candor, former NXIVM members grapple with their sense of responsibility as they face losing friendships, careers and the community they helped to build over a decade. The film offers a view into the lives of former members whose commitment to growth and a better world fueled their devotion to NXIVM and Raniere, following them as they question the intent of the teachings and the organization that had been at the center of their lives. The first six episodes include:

"The Science of Joy" (Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 10pm): Mark Vicente and Sarah Edmondson, high-ranking former NXIVM leaders, describe the dream and mission of NXIVM to build a better world. Bonnie Piesse, Mark's wife, tells him she is worried about the organization and Keith Raniere, NXIVM's leader and Mark's mentor. Mark believes there must be a misunderstanding - how could tools to make a better, more ethical world be misused?

"Viscera" (Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 10pm): After seven years, Bonnie leaves Albany and NXIVM for Los Angeles to make sense of it all. She tries desperately to get through to Mark, who reassures her all is well. Meanwhile, Mark remains loyal to Keith and NXIVM, but a series of phone calls begin to sow doubt within him.

"At Cause" (Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 10pm): Sarah confides to Mark about DOS, a secret women's group involving "masters" and "slaves." She struggles in her relationships with NXIVM, her husband Nippy, and her best friend. Nippy confronts the organization he's helped grow for 15 years. Sarah and Mark lament how many members they've recruited and question what to do next.

"Building Character" (Sunday, September 13, 2020 at 10pm): Mark, Bonnie, Sarah and Nippy strategize with Catherine Oxenberg about how to get her daughter, India, out of DOS, even though she wants to stay. "Jane," a former member and India's close friend, describes the appeal of the organization and of DOS, and why she left it all behind.

"Class 1 Data" (Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 10pm): Catherine believes her daughter is in danger and wants her to come home. But she and the former members are unable to get the attention of the authorities, so they approach the New York Times. While weighing the pros and cons of going on record, Mark reflects on his time at NXIVM.

"Honesty & Disclosure" (Sunday, September 27, 2020 at 10pm): When they see no action by the authorities, Sarah, Mark, and Nippy contact additional news outlets to provoke outrage and pressure law enforcement to pay attention. Barbara Bouchey, a former board member and early defector, shares her insight into NXIVM and reflects on her time in Keith's inner circle.

"Blame & Responsibility" (Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 10pm): After learning that the New York Attorney General's chief investigator is interested in building a criminal case against Keith, Catherine travels to Buffalo to meet with Frank Parlato, creator of the anti-NXIVM blog "The Frank Report," to build a dossier of evidence.

"The Wound" (Sunday, October 11, 2020 at 10pm): As the group gathers evidence for their FBI testimonies, they express their beliefs about how the curriculums of SOP and JNESS -- men's and women's groups within NXIVM -- reshaped their ideas on gender roles in society and may have laid the foundation for DOS.

"The Fall" (Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 10pm): Keith hasn't been seen in Clifton Park for weeks, and the team gets a tip on where he might be. Catherine meets with India, who maintains her position. Mark and Bonnie return to Clifton Park for the first time since leaving NXIVM and confront their memories of Keith and the curriculum. Sarah, Bonnie, Mark, Nippy, and Catherine face a shocking development in the case.

On Friday, October 16, 2020 -- two days before the Season 1 finale -- HBO announced that THE VOW will continue with a second installment of episodes, to air in 2021. Part Two will offer an exclusive view into Raniere's innermost circle. It delves into the stories of NXIVM's top leadership in the US and Mexico, and into powerful, intimate stories of DOS members. Part Two follows the legal and emotional journeys of the group's founders, supporters and defectors as new evidence and stunning revelations come to light while federal prosecutors and defense attorneys battle for opposing views of justice in a case caught in the national spotlight.

Other Titles

  • Also known as: The Vow: A NXIVM Story

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by HBO Documentary Films