The Girlfriend Experience season 3 trailer begins an 'insidious and complex' experiment

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The Girlfriend Experience, the Starz anthology series from executive producer Steven Soderbergh, explores the complex dynamics of transactional relationships. But season 3, revealed in EW's exclusive trailer, takes a new approach that writer-director Anja Marquardt says "gets very insidious and complex."

"What's unique about this season is it's looking at [transactional relationships] through the lens of human behavior and tech," she tells EW. "There's a simulation that's happening for every girlfriend... There's a protagonist who comes in and interacts with clients, and I was interested in exploring the angle where she enters that equation from a very unique vantage point."

Julia Goldani Telles (The Affair) stars in season 3 as Iris, a neuroscience major who works at a startup in the London tech scene. "Iris is very perceptive, very motivated to decode the human behavior of her clients, and on top of that she's pretty fearless," Marquardt says. "She goes in and almost uses her clients as a laboratory to extract behavioral data. To what end, of course, I'm not allowed to tell you right now, but things will get pretty wild."

For Marquardt, the concept for this season's story began with the idea of "online dating and the very brief simulation of a potential interaction."

"This is such a unique time where every conversation that we're having collectively sort of centers around data and technology and privacy," she says. "So, I thought that that was going to be a really interesting foil for this third season."

Marquardt saw Telles' work in The Affair and found her to be "extraordinarily in the moment and quite fearless," two aspects she found necessary in realizing the "transformative" character of Iris. "[The show] just needed to be grounded in the idea that this woman could walk into a situation and literally go, 'OK. Go!' You have 10 seconds to read this guy and figure out what it is behaviorally [that] will solve the puzzle."

Soderbergh, who returns as an executive producer for season 3 alongside Philip Fleishman, said in a previous statement that what Marquardt "has achieved in blending cutting-edge technology with The Girlfriend Experience world is super exciting and very provocative."

The 10-episode new season will premiere on Starz on May 2, EW can reveal. The first two episodes debuted today at this year's South by Southwest as an Official Selection. Both episodes will also be available for all SXSW Virtual Festival goers to watch for the duration of the festival.

Jeff Cuban also executive produces the series, while Marquardt serves as co-executive producer.

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