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Netflix Hit With Defamation Lawsuit by the Subjects of the Docuseries 'Afflicted'

By Daniel Goldblatt

Seven people who were featured on the Netflix docuseries "Afflicted" — four of whom suffer from various chronic illnesses — have banded together to sue the streaming media giant and the producers of the show over how they were portrayed in the series.

The lawsuit focuses on four subjects from "Afflicted" — Jamison Hill, Pilar Olave, Jill Edelstein, and Bekah Dinnerstein — who claim when they were approached to be on the show, it was pitched as a Netflix documentary series that would "help spread understanding of rare, but very real, chronic illness."

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According to court documents obtained by The Blast, the "Afflicted Four" (as they are referred to in the lawsuit) explicitly asked Doc Shop Productions, the series' producer, whether their illnesses would be portrayed as psychosomatic.

They claim they were assured it would be "a serious Netflix documentary, with science and interviews with experts in the field, and that Afflicted would show the Afflicted Four's lives and struggles with their illnesses through a 'compassionate lense.'"

But the group claims it was clear immediately after the show premiered on August 10, 2018, that they had been "lied to" because they claim "the series is not a documentary in any sense of the word, but a reality series that advanced a producer-driven narrative ... suggesting that its subjects' medically-documented physical illnesses are purely psychological and/or psychosomatic."

They claim the show, within the first few minutes of the first episode, labeled the subjects of the series "as having controversial diagnoses (when in fact they do not) and undergoing fictitious or unrecognized treatments (also false)."

The Afflicted Four claim those first few minutes "implanted in the viewer the idea that the show concerns people that have mysterious, unknown, or fictitious diseases and conditions that have no medically recognized methods to diagnose and, as such are psychosomatic. The false and toxic thematic narrative is systematically woven into every single episode of the series."

In addition, they claim the show presented factual errors as unequivocal facts, omitted key facts about their illnesses, manipulated timelines and took quotes out of context.

The group is suing Netflix, Doc Shop Productions, and various individual producers for defamation and fraud, among other claims. They are seeking over $1 million in damages.

The Blast reached out to Netflix and Doc Shop for comment but they have yet to respond.

The series was met with backlash almost immediately after it premiered and the group who filed the lawsuit outlined their issues with the show in great detail in a blog post last year.

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