In Season 1 of Starz's The Girlfriend Experience, Riley Keough's Christine Reade utilized her beauty to leverage some power. The lines of business and pleasure sometimes blurred, and that included sleeping with her friend Avery (Kate Lyn Shiel), who introduced her to becoming a professional GFE.
Season 2, premiering Sunday on Starz, elevates the theme of sexual fluidity with a lesbian relationship between GFE Anna Garner (Louisa Krause) and Erica Miles (Anna Friel), the finance director of a Republican super PAC. They meet when Erica hires Anna to blackmail one of her clients,but end up falling for one another.
"It’s pretty quick how it goes down," Krause tells NewNowNext. "It was exhilarating as an actress to be able to experience a vulnerable new emotional territory from used to being a successful confident manipulative businesswoman and then all of a sudden walls are coming down. That vulnerability was such exhilarating thing to live—to live in."
Despite their differing careers, Anna and Erica are quite alike: They both find the roles they have staked out in the world informing the ones they take in the bedroom. Erica plays the dom, getting off on Anna's submission and sex work. They become beholden to one another, although Erica has a recent ex, Darya (Narges Rashidi), who still has some control over her.
"We’re watching all of these individuals, and relationships are so complex and can be so passionate and so messy," Krause explains. "Every sort of element of a relationship is represented in this show. It’s fricking fierce. I’m such a satisfied actress right now."
The erotic content of The Girlfriend Experience requires a lot of intimacy from the cast. But Krause says she found it easy to inhabit a woman who has sex, not just to connect with a lover but for her livelihood.
"It’s so specifically written and I have such a strong will to resonate truth into the material that I’m given that my whole method is just surrendering to that. Because it was so specific and [co-creator] Lodge [Kerrigan] knows exactly what he wants, it was quite easy."
Kerrigan co-wrote and directed the first season of the Steven Soderbergh-produced show with co-creator Amy Seimetz. This this time around, they've split the season into two separate stories, with Kerrigan's, "Anna & Erica," premiering Sunday.
With Republicans on the hot seat these days, its timely that the season set in D.C., with women at the center. And women who are unapologetic about their wants and needs, and refreshingly disinterested in keeping any part of their attraction a secret. They have bigger secrets to keep, the kind that threatens careers—not just their own but big public figures with big money invested in keeping those secrets quiet. Such storylines are rarely given to women in television, much less two queer women.
"This was such a wonderful complex fearless badass to have been able to sink my teeth into," Krause says. "I just think it’s wonderful that our story this season is female-centric... I feel like in our time now, we want truth so bad and this show gives you an unapologetic look at truth. That’s the kind of art I want to be a part of."
Season 2 of The Girlfriend Experience premieres Sunday, November 5, on Starz.