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7 Things In The Arrangement That Are Definitely Scientology-Inspired
On Sunday night, E! premiered the first episode ofThe Arrangement, about a young actress named Megan Morrison who wins the role of a lifetime — paid girlfriend and future wife of Kyle West, the hottest actor in Hollywood. Given Kyle's association with a cultish self-help group called the Institute of the Higher Mind, it's difficult to resist the assumption that the show takes some inspiration from Tom Cruise's marriage to Katie Holmes, long rumored to have ended (if not started) because of Scientology.The Arrangement's cast and creators maintain that their story is different — the Institute is a self-help group and not a religion, after all — but if you look, the similarities are still there. Below, an exploration of the seven most Scientologist things that happened in the premiere.
1. The Institute of the Higher Mind.I mean,hello— it's a group based in California, beloved by celebrities who'll do anything to make it in the cutthroat world of Hollywood. It might be about "self-help" instead of religion, but there's no doubt it's a cult. Nothing has ever had the words "higher mind" in it that wasn't a cult.
2. The three imperatives.During her audition for the Kyle West movie, Megan is asked to answer the "three imperatives" with the first thing that pops in her mind — whose life would she rather have, the most dangerous thing she's ever done, and her greatest fear. This is clearly some sort of Institute test, and while there's no exact Scientology analogue, the church usesplentyof its own mind exercises. One of the most notorious is bullbaiting, where a coach tries to get a rise out of a student with insults and threats until the student no longer reacts.
3. Kyle and Terence's bizarre relationship.Even if you discount more sensational reports about Tom Cruise's friendship with Scientology leader David Miscavige, there is no doubt that the two men are close and have been for many years. David served as the best man at Tom's wedding to Katie Holmes, and in 2004, he presented him with the Freedom Medal of Valor, a top-level Scientology award created just for Tom. It remains to be seen how many celebrity followers the Institute has, but based on Terence's hovering, it's clear that Kyle is one of the most visible and important faces of the group.
4. "Past experience is a barrier between us and our better selves."This is one of the principles the very blonde Alexa learns at an Institute workshop, and it's also a principle straight out of Scientology. According to L. Ron Hubbard, an "engram" is the memory of a traumatic or painful event from your past that stays recorded in your "reactive mind." Unless you get rid of this memory, it will keep resurfacing and haunting you. One of the purposes of auditing is to "clear" yourself of engrams, which hinder you from moving up the Bridge to Total Freedom. Alexa's not using any of this vocabulary, but the goal is more or less the same.
5. The Institute wants approval on any interactions Megan has with the media.Like a publicist, but worse! Scientologists are not supposed to read about Scientology in non-Scientology publications, nor are they supposed to discuss the church after they leave it. And as you know if you've seen any of Leah Remini's show on the subject, the church denies everything said by its detractors. So basically, Megan better think again if she plans to spill all her Institute knowledge toThe New Yorker.
6. Kyle's split from Lisbeth.At some point, Kyle was engaged to an actress named Lisbeth, who left him before their wedding with no explanation but a note that said she felt she was "getting lost" in his world; Terence describes the situation as "a trainwreck." In 2012, former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun toldVanity Fairthat Tom's divorces from Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman were both caused by disagreements about Tom's religion. "The central problem was Nicole did not want to deal with Scientology," Marty said. "I participated in the Mimi divorce and in the Nic divorce. Both women got cold on Miscavige. He was integral to the breakup of the marriages."
7. The arrangement itself.In the sameVanity Fairarticle, writer Maureen Orth reported that actress Nazanin Boniadi had been "selected" as a girlfriend for Tom after his breakup with Penelope Cruz. According to that story, Nazanin was summoned to the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood, where she underwent auditing in preparation for her meeting with Tom. Another former Scientology official, Marc Headley, said that "Tom never broke up with her," and the relationship ended after a perceived slight against David led to Nazanin getting sent to Florida for more Scientology counseling.
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