Starz's The Girlfriend Experience Is Just as Sexy as 50 Shades of Grey—But Also Nothing Like It

Riley Keough
Photo: Maarten de Boer/Getty Images

Primetime is getting sexy again with The Girlfriend Experience, a new 13-episode series set to debut on Starz on April 10. The series is a television adaptation of Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 film of the same name, which had its original premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Back then, it starred adult film star Sasha Grey as an escort providing men with companionship and sex.

This time around, Elvis’s granddaughter, 26-year-old Riley Keough, leads as the show's high-end escort and second-year law student Christine Reade. Like the original, it had its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival earlier this week.

With seeing a young woman so open to sexual experiences on-screen, it’s natural to have flashbacks of 50 Shades of Grey’s Anastasia Steele. But The Girlfriend Experience flips the idea of a woman as the submissive one on its head. There is no Christian Grey. Keough’s character Christine is the one making the sexual decisions and choices. She is the Christian of the scenario.

Riley Keough

“Christine is never forced into anything,” Keough told InStyle when we discussed the show at Sundance earlier this week. “She’s very much deciding what she wants to do. There are so many women characters on TV and in movies that are just perfect wives. She’s not at all. She’s this person who’s super happy to have casual sex with people. Yet, she never doubts herself or her morals, which is admirable. You end up rooting for her, even though she’s a trainwreck.”

Throughout the show, you will see Keough’s character of Christine in very explicit scenes, she said, though none are XXX-rated. “Shooting sex scenes is so technical,” she said. “On this show, I was doing so many that it got to feel the same thing as shooting like a dinner scene. It was never uncomfortable.”

Riley Keough
Transactional Pictures of NYLP

Of course, nudity is a part of that. “People’s viewpoint on sex and nudity is so weird,” Keough said. “ The fact that you can’t show boobs on TV creates this weird energy around sex. I don’t have that viewpoint on nudity. I don’t like how people make nudity this weird thing. Yes, what I do on this show is going to push some people’s buttons. But I don’t really care.”

Watch a preview of the first season of The Girlfriend Experience below, and tune into the premiere on Starz on April 10.

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