Even before its debut, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath was already generating controversy. The Church of Scientology, famous for its aggressive tactics to address critics, has sent multiple threatening letters to A&E that Scientology critic Tony Ortega noted refer to Remini as a “has-been actress” and “spoiled, entitled diva.” Remini has responded in kind, sending a letter accusing the church of trying to tarnish her reputation. Remini also demanded that the church pay her $1.5 million in compensation.
There have been a number of exposés on the Church of Scientology over the past decade, from the work of the St. Petersburg Times to chronicle the abuses of the Clearwater, Florida-based church, to books from former members discussing the inner workings. But as The Atlantic pointed out, many of these critiques were lost on the greater public who came to know Scientology only as the strange religion practiced by Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and a handful of other celebrities.
That could likely change for those who watch Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath live online and on A&E, The Atlantic‘s report noted, as Remini’s story will introduce the church to a much wider audience.
“Remini’s fierceness, her unshakeable resolve, and her attack-dog instincts certainly make her a worthy opponent for the ‘religious system’ founded by the science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard in 1954. As the most high-profile public figure to denounce Scientology, she has the ability to reach audiences who don’t read The New Yorker, or watch HBO. It’s this reality that makes her new eight-part documentary series on A&E, debuting Tuesday night, noteworthy, even if it isn’t particularly artful. It seems to be aimed at an entirely different audience, mired as it is in the reality and true-crime formats of shows like Intervention and The First 48.”
“While her departure wasn’t as instantaneous as the show makes it seem (it was seven years before she left for good), her public disavowal of Scientology led others to contact her for help, leading her in turn to seek out their stories. And that’s basically the format of the show: Remini, in a car, driving to meet ex-Scientologists and to record their experiences.”
Those who want to watch Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath live online can click here for streaming video through A&E.
[Featured Image by Richard Vogel/AP Images]