Glitz, glamour, and fame. It’s everything an aspiring star wants, right? True love and happiness, that’s for normal folks. Private jets, fancy parties, paparazzi following your every move — the definition of the good life. Or at least that’s the message of E!’s newest scripted drama, “The Arrangement” wants to get into.
Kyle West (Josh Henderson) has achieved a level of fame only the one percent of the one percent ever reach — and he made it there with the help of his mentor, cult leader of the Institute of the Higher Mind, Terrence Anderson (Michael Vartan).
On the other side of the Hollywood Hills lives Megan Morrison (Christine Evangelista), the quintessential struggling actor. Waiting tables, running to auditions for jobs she’ll never book… And on this particularly rough day, discovering her boyfriend of two years has been cheating on her with a band groupie, who’s now pregnant with his child. The City of Angels is not too kind for the beautiful — and believably talented — 25-year-old actress. Megan’s friends convince her if she downs enough alcohol, she’ll be too busy throwing up to think about real life for a night…
So, of course that next morning she gets a callback for what could be a life-changing film role, opposite the revered Kyle West. She’s able to freshen herself up and nails the audition. Her talent is so compelling to Kyle, he runs outside and asks her to lunch. Fish tacos turn into a jaunt on his private jet, which then leads to a picture perfect romantic night at his private villa in Mexico: A Hollywood Cinderella story. Megan returns to L.A. without regrets, and too without the expectation she’ll ever hear from Kyle again.
Back at the Institute’s retreat in Malibu, Terrence and his wife DeAnn (Lexa Doig), who also works as Kyle’s producing partner, are suspiciously very concerned with this budding relationship. Kyle just went though a very public breakup — left at the alter by another A-list starlet, in fact — and they want to make sure such an event doesn’t happen again. Not because of Kyle’s feelings, but because he has a reputation to keep up. No one wants to go see a blockbuster film with a hero whose personal life is in shambles. Kyle must continue giving off the air of being Tinseltown’s perfect leading man — his entire brand, and the sway of the Institute, depend on it.
What’s sad here is that Kyle’s already downed the Higher Mind’s Kool-aid. When Terrence and DeAnn offer Megan an actual relationship contract for $10MM — obligating her to remain faithful, and marry him after a believable amount of dating time has passed, of course — Kyle’s totally on board. He coaxes Megan’s apprehension by playing down how much cares about “his brand”… And that even though the wounds left by his ex-fiance are still fresh, he’s never felt this way before. With her current life being nothing to write home about, Megan buys in. Money and career boost aside, she likes Kyle. This could be true love! And with a quick signature, she trades in her integrity for a life of luxury, flashy red-carpets and film premieres.
Now, this isn’t an exact replica of the real life marriage between Scientology riddled Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, but all the allure that once held is at the base of what makes “The Arrangement” so watchable. In a world where becoming famous for no real reason is normalized, Megan’s acceptance into “The Arrangement” may seem less crazy — but of course, it’s still totally crazy. She’s known this guy for two days, and is choosing to ignore the fact that he’s clearly under a cultish spell.
Kyle’s relationship with Terrence and the Institute is baggage that won’t fit in the overhead compartment of his private jet. And this Hollywood dream is guaranteed to become a nightmare soon enough.
“The Arrangement” airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on E!