Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons (Hulu)

The lingerie empire that defined a generation gets the docu-series treatment in the new Hulu series. A sex, power and money drama that is set to titillate, the three-part Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons exposes the dark underbelly of the billionaire brand in an epic look at fashion, misogyny and the power of the media.

When Ron Raymond opened the first Victoria’s Secret store and catalog in 1977, he was aiming to take a niche category of women’s underwear and make it mainstream. His idea was to lure women with a combination of English romance and modern feminist imagery, offering new colors, patterns and styles that promised sexiness packaged in tasteful, glamorous ways.

The brand thrived. By 1982, it had grown to five stores and a 40-page catalog, grossing a reported $6 million per year. Its success was bolstered by the introduction of the Miracle Bra in 1993, which quickly became the best-selling bra of its kind. The company also launched a TV show featuring barely-there models wearing massive wings, heavy makeup and six-inch heels. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was a pop culture phenomenon that helped the brand become an industry titan.

But over the years, the brand’s image shifted to exude an unattainable and narrow definition of beauty. The bombastic Fashion Show was relegated to the ether in 2018 as its audience dwindled, and the brand’s leaders—including CEO Ed Razek and chairman and former CEO Leslie Wexner—were accused of sexual misconduct and maintaining a culture of misogyny. Rival lingerie brands and startups have been gaining market share by tapping into the female consumer’s desire for more inclusive marketing.

In 2019, Wexner stepped down as chairman and CEO of parent company L Brands, and the company sold a majority stake to private equity fund Sycamore Partners. A 2020 New York Times investigation uncovered the fact that Wexner had been working with Jeffrey Epstein, a suspected pedophile, in the 1990s, when Wexner was still the CEO of L Brands and its flagship brand Victoria’s Secret.

A new era for the brand has begun, with a redesigned website, a more inclusive marketing strategy and an expanded size range. The brand has swapped out its long-running roster of Angels (the supermodels who bare all for the brand) in favor of an ad campaign that features women from around the world who aren’t afraid to embrace their bodies. And it has taken steps to develop products that previously were a glaring omission—nursing and mastectomy bras.

As a result of its rebrand and revamp, the brand has seen a slight uptick in sales. But it remains a distant leader in the crowded and competitive lingerie space, with a market share of just 24% in 2018, according to data from research firm Coresight. And it continues to battle back DTC rivals that have benefited from consumers’ growing desire for more inclusivity and customization. It’s an intriguing story that, when coupled with the explosive revelations in the new series, should be a must-see for any consumer.