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Escaping Twin Flames is your next infuriating cult docuseries

If you haven't seen Netflix's crushing exposé yet, what are you waiting for?

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Louise and Paula in Escaping Twin Flames
Louise and Paula in Escaping Twin Flames
Photo: Netflix

Soulmates are a tricky concept. Most people who believe in them (for the sake of transparency, this writer does not) may understandably do so because it’s reassuring to think someone out there is willing to accept them exactly as they are. It’s as comforting a notion as any—wanting to find the one, a perfect fit, an ideal partner. Or as alleged cult leaders Jeff and Shaleia Ayan like to sell it: a twin flame. It sounds lovely on paper. However, as seen in Netflix’s jaw-dropping docuseries, Escaping Twin Flames, the couple has more diabolical plans than helping others find true love.

Directed by Cecilia Peck, the three episodes dive into how Jeff and Shaleia prey on thousands under the guise of assisting them in discovering their “twin flame.” (Their Facebook group currently has 71,000 members.) If you’re wondering what the phrase means, it’s a belief the person you’re meant to be with is your karmic soulmate for eternity. The duo takes advantage of this idea—and their clients’ desperate want for that idea to be true—claiming to have a god-like ability to recognize those who belong together. So what if it involves essentially forcing a 19-year-old woman to stay with an unemployed 30-year-old man with a criminal record? Or encouraging clients to dangerously stalk potential love interests who are already married? Those aren’t even the worst parts. Your anger levels will spike, but Escaping Twin Flames is a tough, crucial watch as it uncovers the Ayans’ troubling Twin Flames Universe, and exposes why they’re able to con those who seek a community.


Jeff and Shaleia’s business MLM model is to coach prospective clients through virtual meetings, teaching them how to land and stick with their twin flame. Based on ETF’s footage from the meetings and interviews with several women who have now escaped, lessons eventually involve yelling, nagging, and various other forms of psychological abuse. For the low, low cost of $222 per month on courses (to start with), they help couples “ascend to harmonious union.” There’s also sex advice in the realm of how it’s the Divine Feminine’s duty to satisfy the Divine Masculine, whether or not she wants to. (I did say it’ll be infuriating.)


Thankfully, ETF quickly unspools Jeff and Shaleia’s actual talent: Scamming vulnerable people out of their money, hearts, and souls, and destroying families in the process. Like any expert cult leader, they rely on isolating their victims from everyone in their lives. The docuseries depicts how they horrendously capitalize on people’s vulnerability, trauma, loneliness, fear, and heartbreaks. It’s despicable, made worse by the obvious fact that they’re both deeply insufferable and manipulating useful tools to fund their lifestyles and egos.

Escaping Twin Flames | Official Trailer | Netflix

Now, it’s easy to watch and wonder: “Why would anyone buy into the crap Jeff and Shaleia are selling?” They’re just your average toxic white grifters. From episode one, their grand scheme is evident to the viewer. Of course, we are rolling our eyes at them and anyone who chooses to blindly follow their bullshit. By episodes two and three, you’ll practically be screaming at the screen, begging everyone stuck here to get the hell out. “I’d never fall for this idiocy” is another probable response. Most documentaries about cults inspire this type of reaction. Luckily, Escaping Twin Flames does a pretty good job of trying to understand the why of it all.


The docuseries is emotionally shattering because it tries to unpack how humans crave belonging, and that Jeff and Shaleia are particularly skilled at taking advantage of this desire. They purposely hunt for individuals who are hurting and looking for a safe space; they train followers to search on social media for anyone posting about PTSD or loneliness. Once sucked in, they exploit members with several different schemes, like Divine Dishes. At $100 per month, they’ll list ingredients and recipes to increase your sex drive. (It’s a lot of heavy red meat, and caused a member to gain 70 pounds in nine months.)

I won’t include any more detailed spoilers here, but, horrifically, they also coerce some women to change genders. It’s not a way to embrace the trans community or anyone’s identity, which would’ve ideally been celebrated. But no, it’s Jeff and Shaleia exerting control over people’s choices, feelings, and actions to be powerful and, above all, right.


If it sounds too excruciating to witness, you’re not wrong. However, ETF places a somber focus on the women who’ve escaped as they reflect on their journeys. The episodes include detailed interviews with the 19-year-old, Marlee, and others like Keely Griffin, a former TFU coach, among others. The episodes are also framed through the perspectives of Louise Cole, whose daughter, Stephanie, is a TFU insider and hasn’t spoken to the family in three years. Through intimate interviews with Louise and Paula, Stephanie’s twin sister, ETF unravels how Jeff and Shaleia’s cruel tactics have eroded the family’s dynamics.

Escaping Twin Flames is one of two exposès on TFU to be released in recent weeks. Prime Video’s Desperately Seeking Soulmate, which dropped in October, also offers valuable insight into the cult. Yet ETF is more expanded and heart-wrenching, mapping out the insidious world Jeff and Shaleia—that’s not even her real name, by the way—have cultivated. The docuseries invokes shock and rage, yes, but it shouldn’t get buried in a wave of Netflix’s weekly true-crime releases. These three 60-minute episodes are well worth your time.