Guests of the White Lotus are surrounded by beauty, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re having a good time. In fact, these paradisal settings bring out the worst in them. The denizens of the eponymous women’s commune turned cult on “New Eden” face a similar problem. They might be free of men, but they’re still human beings, capable of betrayal, snobbery, and violence.
“New Eden” is a mockumentary series, purporting to be the work of early-’90s dudes eager for salacious details. Footage of life in New Eden is interspersed with “present-day” interviews with former members, pundits, and the group’s leaders, Katherine and Grace. Though “New Eden” initially appears to be a simple spoof of true crime fandom at its sleaziest, it turns out to be a trenchant exploration of how the media turns real women into easily consumable characters. It’s also incredibly funny. Much like “The White Lotus,” “New Eden” gets many laughs out of the dissonance between human pettiness and tranquil surroundings. Puffed-up egos are everywhere here, from gleefully shark-like lawyers to former cultists who’ve turned their sordid past into cash.
Yet for all the fun the show has puncturing these people, it never loses sight of why New Eden was established in the first place. Everyone wants to be happier, freer, and more peaceful, and while going to Hawaii works for some, others just want to get high on hallucinogenic honey with a bunch of other women. Too bad both pursuits end in bloodshed.