After taking a serious turn to make films on autistic children and people living with dementia, Louis Theroux returns to the style of film-making that made him famous; the wide-eyed ingénue experiencing a weird weekend in a world completely alien to him. It was a style that worked brilliantly and allowed him to enter the lives of born again Christians, survivalists, swingers, wrestlers and most memorably, in 1997, porn stars.
Now, 15 years later, Theroux returns to the San Fernando Valley in California, home of the American adult film industry, to see how things have changed in the intervening years in the BBC TV series The Twilight of the Porn Stars. And what he finds is an industry in crisis, under threat from free internet porn and struggling to survive. The proposed solution is to make adult films with higher production values aimed at the couples market and Theroux visits the set of one such historical romp and meets the stars. “Do you feel closer now that you’ve had sex,” he innocently asks the bemused stars of one film after an energetic bout. He also catches up with some of the people he met before to see how they have fared over the years — and finds that one has fled, one has spent time in prison and another has killed himself.