Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation (2023 Lifetime)


Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation (2023 Lifetime)

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Cast: Jennifer Grey, Karen Cliche, Brittany Drisdelle

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

Jennifer Grey stars as the controversial religious leader and Christian diet guru who positioned herself as God’s prophet and preached the virtues of being thin. As the founder of the Tennessee-based Remnant Fellowship Church and the Weigh Down Workshop – a massively successful Christian-based diet program that preached the virtue of a slim waist and the power of prayer for weight loss – Gwen Shamblin Lara was a rare woman to lead a Southern megachurch. As her church grew across the nation, so did her iron-fisted grip as its leader—accumulating power and money, while creating a larger-than-life public persona with dramatically teased and towering hair. At the peak of her power and influence, Gwen demanded that church members alienate themselves from anyone who was not a member, banished those that became overweight, threatened legal action against dissenters, and advocated for strict punishment of those who failed to follow church tenets. But Gwen’s reign suddenly came to a tragic end in May 2021, when the plane that her husband Joe was flying crashed shortly after takeoff, killing Gwen, Joe, their son-in-law, and four other Church leaders.

Recap/Wine Thoughts

The movie starts with Gwen in a deposition for abusive behavior.

Cut to Gwen’s pre-hair style change, and she is still image obsessed and feels like her life is empty. Gwen is a nutritionist, which is scary because she has one client on a broth and breadcrumb diet. 

Food is always on Gwen’s mind. It keeps her up at night. After eating a piece of cake, Gwen prays to Jesus, and suddenly her hunger is gone! She and her clients aren’t starving for food; they are starving for SALVATION! 

Gwen holds a meeting in her garage to start spreading the word. It starts off small, and she is discouraged, but her husband, David, gives her a pep talk, and she doubles down. Gwen writes a diet book called, Weigh Down Diet, and she creates the Weight Down Workshop.

People travel from all over to take her workshop, and Gwen starts training people to lead the workshops in their churches. (For a licensing fee.) Gwen also starts charging $150 per class and making mad money. 

1999, Gwen has become a full-blown diva with a legion of followers. They praise God for weight loss! They also chant Gwen’s name, which starts to go to her head. (Like she thinks she is a prophet.)

Gwen starts preaching against the holy trinity and starts her own church. Churches begin to drop her program and call it heresy. Gwen gets her infamous hairdo because the higher the hair, the closer to God. She claims God spoke to her and confirmed she is on the right path. 

Joseph, Sonya, and their son Joseph Jr join the church when they break ground on a physical building. Everyone who works for Gwen or follows them has to join her church or risk being fired.

2005, Gwen starts Exodus Group. Gwen is very controlling. She tells her friend Emily that God forbids her from getting a divorce and calls her a sinner. Then Gwen someone to talk to Emily’s husband Josh and threatens him. 

Gwen has some double standards because she starts having a wandering eye herself and seduces a handyman, Joe. He is very buff and sexy. Gwen decides to get a divorce from her husband, David. (Emily is PISSED about the double standard.)

 Joe knows a good thing when he sees it… and we are talking about the money, and he proposes. Gwen films the proposal with an entire camera crew. 

Gwen kicks one of her bridesmaids out of her wedding for not fitting into her dress. The wedding is over the top, and so is the lingerie the new bride and groom decide to wear for the wedding night. Gwen buys Joe a plane as a wedding gift.

When her daughter loses her baby, Gwen suggests God is punishing her for not losing the baby weight! (WTF!) 

Gwen and Joe start shopping around new reality show ideas, but Gwen has lost her cultural relevance outside of her dwindling following. They go with a youtube channel instead and only get 100 views.

Social Services start to question Gwen after they find recordings. They are about disciplining children and proving she was condoning and encouraging child abuse. Sonya and Joseph are arrested, and they turn on Gwen. She tells them they misinterpreted her teachings and forces them to take the blame to be bailed out. They get life to 30 years in prison.

When Gwen’s son Michael tells her he wants to get a divorce, she is uncharacteristically chill about it. God is going to take care of her. That is until she gets on the plane she bought Joe, and it goes down, killing all on board. 

Her daughter takes over the church. Eeeeeeek!

Side Note

I honestly feel that this woman should not be remembered. She was awful.

Minority Report: Carmen, Joseph, Sonya, Joseph Jr, 


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Overall rating 

Number of Kills: 

Since they are real people, this would be in poor taste. 

Enjoyment Level (1-5 scale) 


Should you watch it?

Pour it up! (Give it a shot)

Put a Cork in It (Skip It)

What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments or on social media @LifetimeUncorked & @patrickmiguel

*Photo Credit: © 2023 Lifetime® | A+E Networks®

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