The next two episodes focus on envy and lust, and are equally weird. The vignettes range in quality, as they always do on programs with this structure, but most are an oddly fascinating look at something new: a “pretender” who self-identifies as disabled and often uses an unnecessary wheelchair, a minister who promotes prostitution, and a man who specializes in modeling dildos off of horses (and other animals). Most of the guests are dead serious about their craft in a way that makes it hard to point and gawk at them.
Of course, 7 Deadly Sins is a show that you’re supposed to gawk at — I wouldn’t be surprised if these vignettes spawned at least five different TLC programs — and as much a Spurlock says he doesn’t judge, there’s always the underlying “Look at this weirdo!” nudge. At times, it’s hard to tell what 7 Deadly Sins‘ true aim is: Is it an attempt to provide a judgment-free look at people we likely don’t encounter in our everyday lives or just another show that puts different people on display for our amusement? While the show was thoroughly entertaining throughout the three episodes sent out for review, it was also occasionally sad and uncomfortable to watch.
Even outside of the actual “characters,” 7 Deadly Sins has a few problems with style and tone. It has a light, Twilight Zone-type feel but is hyper-stylistic in a way that takes away from its substance. Spurlock wears a fancy suit, delights in gross images, and randomly hangs out in the middle of an orgy while narrating. It tries so hard to look visually cool — and just be cool in general — that it can feel a bit desperate. The episode’s subjects are often framed in lavish and dramatic ways that resemble an exhausting student film. The biggest issue is that too often the stories are far more interesting than the actual storytelling, so the show can feel dulled down. But for the most part, 7 Deadly Sins is more successful than Spurlock skeptics like me might have guessed, and a step up from the standard exhibitionist TLC fare of the same ilk.