After ‘LuLaRich,’ a New LuLaRoe Documentary Offers Another Take on the Controversial MLM

Released in September 2021, Prime Video’s docuseries LuLaRich explored the inner workings of the multi-level marketing company LuLaRoe. Now, another documentary about the leggings empire is here. The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe dropped on discovery+ on Dec. 13. It covers much the same territory as its predecessor. However, this new LuLaRoe documentary does include some new details that make it compelling viewing for those who are interested in the controversial clothing retailer. 

‘The Rise and Fall of LuLa Roe’ includes new interviews with MLM, cult experts 

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The jumping-off point for The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe is the work of journalist Stephanie McNeal, who has written numerous articles about the company for BuzzFeed. (The documentary is produced in partnership with McNeal and BuzzFeed Studios.) McNeal is a prominent talking head in the 105-minute movie. Cult expert Rick Ross, Cultish author Amanda Montell, and Jana Marie, host of The Dream podcast, which explored the shady world of MLMs in its first season, also appear.

In addition to experts, we also hear from former LuLaRoe employees, including a man who worked in the company’s warehouse and shares the backstory behind the infamous moldy leggings scandal. There’s also Elijah Tucker, a young man who was recruited to work at the company’s high-energy events when someone spotted him dancing on a beach on vacation. Of course, several former LuLaRoe consultants appear. They share their experiences — good and bad — with the company that promised full-time pay for part-time work. 

‘The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe’ vs. ‘LuLaRich’ 

DeAnne Stidham, with blond hair and wide eyes, in the LuLaRoe documentary 'LuLaRich'
‘LuLaRich’ | Courtesy of Amazon Studios

If you binged LuLaRich, much of The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe will feel familiar. That four-part series contained tons of behind-the-scenes tidbits about the leggings company. It also boasted exclusive interviews with founder Mark and DeAnne Stidham

The discovery+ series hits some of the same notes. There’s footage of the surly Stidhams giving depositions in a lawsuit alleging the company was a pyramid scheme. There’s the clip of Samantha Bee mocking LuLaRoe’s comically bad designs. And there is footage of consultants whooping it up on cruises and at conferences. 

But The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe also brings something new to the table. Through interviews with experts like Ross, it makes the case that the company operates like a cult. It touches on the prosperity gospel, or the idea that God wants you to be rich. It also tackles the issue of race and LuLaRoe through interviews with Tucker and business coach and entrepreneur Vivian Kaye. 

The world of LuLaRoe is largely white. But Kaye pointedly calls out the way the company used Black vernacular in its messaging. That’s followed by a cut to various white consultants delivering a chipper, “Hey girl, hey!” as they attempt to sell leggings. The result is to reduce people of color to “seasoning,” Kaye argues. Tucker reflects on his experience as one of LuLaRoe’s few Black employees. He jokingly describes himself as the “unicorn of LuLaRoe.” But then gets more serious, admitting that he definitely experienced “some sort of racism” during his time at the company. 

The discovery+ LuLaRoe documentary touches on the bottom of the pyramid 

the LuLaRoe logo on the side of a building
LuLaRoe | BuzzFeed Video via YouTube

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The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe also touches –  though not too deeply – on a topic that went unaddressed in LuLaRich: Who makes the clothes? As one interviewee points out, the bottom of the LuLaRoe pyramid isn’t the consultants who just paid thousands of dollars to start a home-based business. Instead, it’s the low-wage workers who make the clothes the company sells. 

We see some brief though disturbing footage of DeAnne and others from LuLaRoe visiting a factory that makes the company’s garments. “They treat them very well. There’s great air conditioning,” she says. “We don’t judge anyone,” she adds. “We just accept what they do in their country.”

So, is The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe worth watching? At 105 minutes, it’s less of a time commitment than LuLaRich but hits many of the same points. For those who found the early docuseries compelling viewing, the new film sheds further light on why LuLaRoe became so successful, and how it imploded so dramatically. 

The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe is currently streaming on discovery+. 

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