“The Age of Influence” is a six-part docuseries on Hulu that delves into the dark side of influencer culture by examining the most prominent social media scandals in recent history. Each episode profiles a different influencer, showcasing their journey from fame to infamy.
The series begins with a deep dive into the case of Danielle Miller, a victim of revenge porn as a teenager who later became involved in a credit card scam, leading to her imprisonment at Rikers Island. She later pleaded guilty to wire fraud and identity theft in a $1.5 million COVID relief fraud scheme, using stolen identities and fake business names to obtain pandemic-relief money from the government, which she spent on a lavish lifestyle.
The docuseries comprehensively examines these scandals, exposing influencer culture’s manipulative tactics and exploitative behavior. In addition, it offers a unique perspective by presenting the accounts of victims, former friends of the influencers, and the influencers themselves, exploring the psychology behind their actions.
Other influencers featured in the series include Jay Mazini, who was convicted of kidnapping and fraud. Emily Gellis, a fashion influencer involved in a viral campaign against a diet company, and Essena O’Neill, a former Instagram star disillusioned with the influencer lifestyle.
Produced by Part2 Pictures for ABC News Studios, the series is directed by Alison Klayman and aims to blend investigative journalism, true crime, pop culture, and social media to create a compelling viewing experience.
Episode 1: XOXO, Grifter Girl
Danielle Miller, once notorious as the infamous “Swiffer Girl,” crosses paths with celebrity scammer Anna Delvey while in prison. Inspired by Delvey’s fraudulent rise to fame, Miller attempts to follow in her footsteps.
Episode 2: The Deceptive Influencer
Jay Mazini, who gained fame through social media, is exposed as a con artist willing to go to any lengths to prevent his elaborate facade from collapsing.
Episode 3: Clash of Diet Gurus
A heated dispute erupts on Instagram regarding the safety of the trendy F-Factor diet. The online battle eventually escalates to the point where Tanya Zuckerbrot takes legal action against Emily Gellis.
Episode 4: The Swindling Steroid Enthusiast
Bodybuilder Tyler Baumann transforms, rebranding himself as the “Musclehead 320” influencer while building his empire centered around steroids.
Episode 5: The Exploitative Mom Influencer
Machelle Hobson subjects her adopted children to a nightmarish existence while exploiting them on the popular YouTube series, ‘Fantastic Adventures.’
Episode 6: The Conning Influencer
Tracii Hutsona, a wannabe influencer and reality star, orchestrates her most lucrative scheme to date when she swindles over a million dollars from her boss, the ex-wife of a famous basketball player.
The series premiered on Hulu on June 5, 2023. So far, it’s badass. Watch it.
Hulu’s Age of Influence: What’s the Hype?
This from Coffeezilla:
In 2020 I investigated Jay Mazini, a celebrity scammer. During my investigation, Jay would kidnap someone, commit wire fraud, and get arrested by the FBI.— Coffeezilla (@coffeebreak_YT) June 5, 2023
Now there's a documentary about it all. #AgeOfInfluence now on Hulu. (EPISODE 2) pic.twitter.com/OPLwaKXpWC
This from Gabrielle Bluestone:
It’s the scammer solstice baby!— Gabrielle Bluestone (@g_bluestone) May 25, 2023
Six stunning true stories.
Be careful who influences you.
“The Age of Influence” is a new @abcnewsstudios docuseries examining the dark side of influencer culture. Stream #AgeOfInfluence June 5 on @hulu. pic.twitter.com/BWlypSw5aE
Why Marketers Should Watch The Age of Influence
“The Age of Influence” docuseries is a crucial watch for marketers because it provides an in-depth understanding of the influencer culture, which has become a significant part of modern marketing strategies. The series exposes the darker side of this culture, revealing the potential pitfalls and ethical issues that can arise when working with influencers. By understanding these issues, marketers can make more informed decisions when selecting influencers to represent their brand and can take steps to ensure ethical and transparent collaborations.
Furthermore, the series highlights the power and reach of influencers, demonstrating how they can command high fees for product endorsements and sponsorships due to their large followings. However, it also shows the potential consequences when influencers misuse this power, leading to scandals that can harm their reputation and the brands they represent. This serves as a reminder for marketers to conduct thorough background checks and maintain ongoing oversight of influencer partnerships to protect their brand’s reputation.
Finally, “The Age of Influence” offers valuable insights into influencers’ and followers’ psychology. For example, understanding influencers’ motivations, justifications, and remorse can help marketers better navigate their relationships. Similarly, understanding the dynamics between influencers and their followers can give marketers insights into consumer behavior, enabling them to design more effective influencer marketing campaigns.
Other Notable Reviews of The Age of Influence on Hulu
- ‘Age of Influence’: New Hulu docuseries explores dark side of social media influencers (ABC News)
- Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Age Of Influence’ On Hulu, An ABC News Docuseries That Features Influencers Who Scammed, Canceled, And Trolled Their Way To Clicks (Decider)
- ‘The Age of Influence’ on Hulu spotlights dark side of social media, influencer Jay Mazini (Yahoo!)
- The Age of Influence Book Review (Not Related)