E!'s new scripted series The Arrangement is definitely, totally, not at all about the relationship between actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, but it's hard to ignore the similarities between the former high-profile couple and the story of aspiring actress Megan Morrison (Christine Evangelista) and established movie star Kyle West (Josh Henderson).
When Megan meets Kyle during an audition for a major summer blockbuster, the two go on an incredible first date only for Megan to subsequently be presented with a million-dollar contract that could change her life and ensure her fortune and fame. As if an arranged relationship in the spotlight isn't problematic enough, the series adds another complicated layer when it's revealed Kyle's mentor Terence Anderson (Michael Vartan), the leader of the Institute of The Higher Mind — a secretive self-help organization that is definitely, totally, not at all Scientology — is behind the existence of the contract. As the story unfolds, Megan must decide how far she is willing to go to further her career.
The 10-episode drama hails from Emmy Award-winning writer and executive producer Jonathan Abrahams, who sees the series as "a truly unique story that takes place in Hollywood." But again, it's not supposed to be about Scientology.
Abrahams drew inspiration from programs like Lifespring, Landmark Forum, EST and even various 12-step programs when creating the foundations for the fictional Institute of The Higher Mind, which he says is not and should not be considered a religious institution. But if the show isn't tackling faith and religion, what exactly is it tackling? And what is the Institute of The Higher Mind? According to Abrahams, it's all about the aspirational nature of Hollywood.
"Hollywood is such an aspirational town and these self-help organizations are about aspiring to a higher way of living, to having more successes in your profession and more success in relationships and having a more fulfilling life. There's a real promise to it," Abrahams told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter previews Tuesday.
"All of these [programs] have something in common," he continued, "and it's this idea that the shackles of your past can be broken if you follow the system, if you follow a structure about how to live you life and you can shape a future that is not informed necessarily by the trauma or the bad experiences you've had in the past."
Watch a trailer for the series below.
The Arrangement premieres Sunday, March 5 at 10/9c on E!