The Jeffrey Epstein case is so compelling because it offers observers (and obsessives) so much to explore: celebrity (Epstein’s associations with a litany of public figures, including Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton); money (the source of Epstein’s billions remains unknown, but he was L brands billionaire Les Wexner’s longtime money manager); and the salacious nature of his crimes.
But what can get lost amid all the speculation about who appears in Epstein’s little black book and flight logs, his private island, and his scientific theories are all the people Epstein hurt in the process of launching 1,000 conspiracy theories.
Filthy Rich: Jeffrey Epstein, a four-part Netflix documentary that comes out today, puts the spotlight on the various women he abused, sharing their testimony so viewers can appreciate the scale of his crimes.
Filthy Rich explores all of the bandied-about aspects of the Epstein case through his victims’ eyes. Filmmaker Lisa Bryant gives the women abused by Epstein the time and the space necessary to outline the crimes he committed against them—and the lasting repercussions they had on their lives. “We wanted to unravel the mystery through the eyes of survivors, we wanted their perspective to drive the narrative,” Bryant says.
Bryant says that she started working on the series nine months prior to the Miami Herald‘s publication of Julie K. Brown’s article reopening the case—and had to go back to the drawing board after the Epstein story blew wide open last year.
“Netflix has been talking about doing this for a couple of years before I came on board. The press had been shut down because of Epstein and his team’s power of intimidation. Any time it looked like something was going to come to fruition, he would find a way to quash it,” Bryant says, adding that when she came on board the project in November 2018, Netflix set her team up with a secret room where they stored any materials related to the investigation for fear that Epstein’s team would try to get in their way. The team even took the extra precaution of not putting any photos up on their walls or boards to track the investigation, in case someone took a photo or information leaked out.
Bizarrely, one of the most featured talking heads on the program is its producer, novelist James Patterson, who wrote a nonfiction book about Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes and has also co-written books with one of the alleged members of Epstein’s circle, former president Bill Clinton. “The show was inspired by his book,” Bryant says. “He brought the idea to Netflix and said it was important to expose what was happening. The show isn’t based on the book.”
Bryant hopes that through the documentary, viewers will learn about the power structure in America. The documentary demonstrates how having money can protect someone from the law, as Bryant depicts how Epstein received a lenient sentence by Alexander Acosta, a federal prosecutor in Florida who would later become the Secretary of Labor under President Trump.
“I hope people can see that the American system is broken, that it was built for power and political gain, and that officials have to do their jobs and not give the wealthy a free pass,” she says.