When Alice Hines was writing her explosive exposé on the controversial couple at the center of the Twin Flames Universe, she always thought there would be more story to tell. And what better way to do that than in a documentary series? “These people really kind of come alive when you watch the videos of them in a way that you can do in writing, but it’s hard to capture sometimes just how wild the Twin Flames Universe actually is,” Hines tells Vanity Fair.
The three-part series Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe, which will debut on Prime Video on October 6, digs deeper into the claims of Shaleia and Jeff Ayan, who founded the Twin Flames Universe, an online community that sells courses and seminars to help members find their one true love (or “twin flame”). As seen in the trailer exclusively debuting below, the new series features testimony from former members of the group—which many have described as a cult—who share how Shaleia and Jeff use their claims that they are chosen by God to compel members into changing themselves in drastic ways, even influencing some to change their gender identity. (In Hines's 2020 exposé, she recounts how she and Jeff looked up the definition of "cult," and he later acknowledged in a video that he was a cult leader.)
Directed by two-time Emmy winner Marina Zenovich, the new series also traces Hines’s journey investigating the couple. As of now, she’s the only journalist to ever visit them at their home, which she captured on video. “Going to their house was something that even most of their followers never do. This is an organization that operates almost exclusively online,” she says. “So people are accessing their content on YouTube, on these private paid Zoom sessions, but people don’t really get to see behind the curtain, which, incredibly, I did.”
The first trailer features several former members describing the relatable feeling of loneliness that led them to discover the Twin Flames Universe. There’s a great deal of footage from Jeff and Shaleia’s course videos, along with commentary from Hines herself. The series will look back at Jeff and Shaleia’s personal history, with interviews with their friends and family.
The series also looks at the fallout from Hines’s article, when many members of the Twin Flames Universe did leave—as well as the current state of the group as it’s continued to grow over the years. “That, to me, was another reason why I couldn’t really drop this topic because it’s not a purely historical phenomenon,” says Hines. “They are still recruiting people, and they primarily target people who are lonely or brokenhearted, people who are unlucky in love.”
When the new series reaches audiences in October, Hines says she hopes that it will both discourage people from joining the Twin Flames Universe and make audiences aware of the many other programs that prey on people’s loneliness and desire for a partner. She says the documentary shows how the organization “dupes people with the promise of love. There’s all of these ways that people can kind of get tricked and find not love, but something that’s actually a lot of times traumatic.”
Watch the trailer below: