Another Britney documentary? FX/Hulu film promises to dig into Spears’ conservatorship

Britney Spears, in a red off-the-shoulder dress
Britney Spears is the subject of an FX/Hulu documentary premiering Friday.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision/Associated Press)

Hey, Netflix — Hulu also has a new Britney Spears documentary coming out, and it’s beating yours to market by four whole days.

Announced Friday, “Controlling Britney Spears” is FX and Hulu’s follow-up to this year’s “Framing Britney Spears,” the documentary that prompted broad discourse about how the pop star has been treated by the media.

The new documentary airs and streams Friday simultaneously starting at 10 p.m. on FX and Hulu. It promises new interviews that paint a picture of “an intense surveillance apparatus that monitored every move [Spears] made.”


“Controlling,” from the same team that did “Framing,” features new allegations from insiders with intimate knowledge of the musician’s daily life inside the conservatorship, according to a release from FX. It was directed by Samantha Stark and reported and produced by Liz Day, in conjunction with the New York Times.

The director behind a secret Netflix project about Britney Spears talks about the pop star’s conservatorship ahead of her film’s Sept. 28 debut.

Sept. 22, 2021

“When Britney spoke publicly about her conservatorship in detail for the first time during a court hearing in June, she said a reason she hadn’t spoken up earlier is she didn’t think people would believe her,” Stark said in the release. “She said she felt abused under the conservatorship and questioned whether the judge thought she was lying.

“Britney’s speech motivated the people in this film to seek us out to share their stories — at great risk to themselves — because they felt compelled to back up what Britney was saying with evidence they had or moments they witnessed,” Stark continued.

Day added, “Britney’s situation raises a lot of important questions about the conservatorship system at large and whether it is working properly. We felt that it was in the public interest to examine that.”

Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship since 2008. Before her virtual appearance at a court hearing today, here’s a deep dive into her case.

June 23, 2021


As for the last-minute announcement of the documentary’s premiere, Stark tweeted Friday, “We had the release of #ControllingBritneySpears planned for this date for weeks, but we wanted to protect our sources until you could see the film in context.”

“Framing Britney Spears,” which was nominated for two Emmys, created major buzz when it debuted in February, but Spears wasn’t exactly a fan of it.

“I didn’t watch the documentary, but from what I did see of it, I was embarrassed by the light they put me in,” Spears wrote in the caption of a March Instagram post that has since been taken down. “I cried for two weeks and well .... I still cry sometimes !!!!”

The initial documentary shed light on the myriad toxic and sexist ways the media descended on the young Spears as a rising superstar, as well as the restrictions she has been living under.

What started as a blogger’s tagline has become a global rallying cry for justice and freedom. The story of #FreeBritney, as told by the movement’s leaders.

Sept. 7, 2021

On Wednesday, the singer’s attorney filed a document seeking the end of Spears’ conservatorship, in agreement with a document filed earlier this month by Jamie Spears, Britney’s father. Jamie’s filing came just weeks after he had defended his role as conservator of her estate.

Meanwhile, over at Netflix, “Britney vs. Spears” is set to debut Tuesday, a day before the next court hearing on the conservatorship.

“This is a 2½-years-long investigative process into the conservatorship,” filmmaker Erin Lee Carr, who made the Netflix doc, told the L.A. Times earlier this week. “There has been an amazing amount of coverage, but that’s a really long time to be focused on this. We wanted to be the definitive place to understand the beginning, middle and hopefully what we will find out as the end of this saga.”


10:18 a.m. Sept. 24, 2021: This story was updated to include an additional remark from Samantha Stark.