“Life is short. Have an affair” – with this short slogan, Ashley Madison attracted new customers for years. Most of the time these were men, but we don’t find that out in the first episode of the new Netflix documentary “Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies and the Scandal.”

In three episodes, the makers tell the sometimes unbelievable story of the dating portal. Starting in the noughties, when Tinder and Co. did not yet determine the everyday lives of most singles in the world, then CEO Noel Biderman made Ashley Madison the most notorious site on the Internet. Married people could register there and connect with other users who were also unhappily married and looking for an affair. A few of these users have agreed to tell their stories for the Netflix documentary. 

The story of YouTube vlogger Sam Rader is probably the most exciting in the documentary. The picture that Radar paints of himself at the beginning of the documentary is that of a slightly naive romantic who was looking for movie-worthy love before he met his wife Nia. But after the wedding and the hard everyday life as a parent, things changed. Visibly tormented, Rader tells us that he registered with Ashley Madison. His username at the time: “dirty_little_secret_man”. He wrote to women in his area, but nothing more happened. However, you can already tell from the beginning that there is a lot more to Rader’s story.

In the summer of 2015, employees and CEO Biderman received a message on their computers that would change everything. The “Impact Team” reported for the first time. They have all of Ashley Madison’s data and would publish it if the portal was not closed. For a company that had lied for years and claimed that its customers’ data was safe, the cyberattack was nothing short of a disaster. And for Sam Rader, the cyber hack also meant a turning point in his life. 

Rader was just one of the men whose affairs came to light through the leak. Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden is said to have had an account, as are Canadian politician Tony Clement and conservative Christian influencer Josh Duggar, who has since been convicted of sex crimes.

“Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies and Scandal” has everything fans could want from a crime documentary on Netflix. Megalomaniacal entrepreneurs, shrill figures like ex-sales vice president Evan Back and also influencer Sam Rader, who outwardly appears to be a God-fearing Christian while leading a double life. The documentary benefits from these protagonists, who fill an already exciting story with life and a pinch of crazy. 

For years, Ashley Madison showed people what many people already knew. “We are just a platform. No website or 30-second commercial will convince anyone to cheat. People cheat because their lives don’t work,” Biderman once said about his portal. He was probably right about that. But what Biderman didn’t say and what three episodes on Netflix clearly demonstrate are the consequences that can have when human abysses meet the greed for profit of a few.