Paramount+ today announced that the documentary series BORN IN SYNANON will premiere exclusively on the service, beginning Tuesday, December 12.
Directed by Geeta Gandbhir (Why We Hate), the four-part series chronicles one woman’s journey to discover the truth about Synanon, the experimental community that turned into a full-blown cult. Cassidy Arkin was born into Synanon. Her earliest memories are of a happy place with extended family, a portrait that stands in stark contrast to the abusive hierarchical society into which it evolved and that her peers vividly recall.
What began as a successful drug-and-alcohol treatment program would become a fully established, racially inclusive utopian community. But in 1974, the year Cassidy was born, the community’s leaders embarked on a relentless descent into extremism, forging a path characterized by unparalleled control.
They mandated uniforms, shaved members’ heads, required vasectomies and even ordered the changing of partners to break up marriages – all while acquiring a large cache of weapons and training a military-like cadre. Tensions escalated within the community as its members increasingly became isolated from the law and order of the outside world, which created a crack in the utopian armor driven by the vision of its charismatic founder Chuck Dederich.
While initially forming Synanon to combat alcoholism, Dederich eventually succumbed to his own struggles with substance abuse and unchecked bipolar disorder.
Over four episodes, Cassidy and her mother Sandra Rogers-Hare go on a quest to understand the nature of Synanon – both the good and the bad. They reconnect with former members and share deeply personal experiences, revealing a vast trove of never-before-seen archival footage. The truth is shocking, leaving Cassidy unprepared for the startling discoveries that she soon would uncover.
BORN IN SYNANON is directed and executive produced by Geeta Gandbhir, along with executive producers Cassidy Arkin, Sandra Rogers-Hare, Jonathan K. Bendis and Jessica Cozzetta. Producers are Steven Cantor and Jamie Schutz. For See It Now Studios, Susan Zirinsky and Terence Wrong executive produce, and Aysu Saliba and Cara Tortora are supervising producers.
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About See It Now Studios
See It Now Studios develops and produces original documentaries and docuseries for Paramount+, CBS, the Paramount Global television networks, international providers and third-party platforms. Since launching in September 2021, See It Now Studios has produced such projects as News and Documentary Emmy nominees 11 MINUTES and WATERGATE: HIGH CRIMES IN THE WHITE HOUSE, along with SUPERPOWER co-directed by Sean Penn, the Mandy Patinkin-narrated series INDIVISIBLE: HEALING HATE, and FBI TRUE, NEVER SEEN AGAIN, THE GIFT: KINDNESS GOES VIRAL WITH STEVE HARTMAN, RACE AGAINST TIME: THE CIA AND 9/11, THE 26th STREET GARAGE: THE FBI’S UNTOLD STORY OF 9/11, SECRETS OF THE OLIGARCH WIVES, and GHISLAINE: PARTNER IN CRIME, and interview specials with Halle Berry, Chris Rock and Prince Harry. Susan Zirinsky is the president of See It Now Studios. Follow See It Now Studios on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.