Netflix’s latest docu-series “The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping  is making a huge splash. It hit #1 in USA and the UK the day after release, and currently holds the Top 5 spot on the global chart (3 days after release).

CAA screening with Q&A – Photo credit: Samantha Smart

It’s no surprise that so many viewers are captivated by this three-part docuseries because it’s shocking, disturbing, and utterly outrageous. Director, Katherine Kubler quickly pulls you deeper and deeper in as she attempts to make sense of what happened to her at 16 years of age. Armed with an inextinguishable sense of humor, Kubler examines and exposes the madness of the youth residential program at Ivy Ridge where she spent 15 months of her young life. This disciplinary boarding institution marketed itself at “helping troubled teenagers” but instead exploited desperate parents while unconscionably damaging the teens. No smiling, no looking out the window, no going outside, no talking, and even no farting without permission——these were just some of the near impossible rules that the kids were meant to follow in order to complete the program and be released. With the daily enforcement of brainwashing, abuse and all around mind-f*ckery, Kubler describes the Ivy Ridge staff  as “trying to murder children’s souls”. Kubler knew she had to make this docu-series “because there really was nothing out there to help explain what had happened to me, to my friends and family, and to warn them about these places.”

As Kubler and other survivors relate their stories, the depth of cruelty is revealed, and we are confronted with the fact that similar programs are currently still in operation. It’s the responsibility of anyone who knows child abuse is happening to take action to stop it…and as Kubler tells you at the end of the final episode: “Now you know!”