For 13 years, nearly every aspect of Britney Spears’ life — including major financial, professional and medical decisions — has been controlled by her father Jamie Spears through a court-approved conservatorship.
Instituted after Spears’ very public breakdown in 2007-2008, the legal arrangement is now older than Spears was when she debuted on “The Mickey Mouse Club.” It has endured even as Spears appeared to stabilize and mount an impressive comeback, releasing multiple albums, touring the world and performing 248 shows during a wildly lucrative four-year residency in Las Vegas.
Since Spears abruptly canceled a second planned residency in early 2019, the legal arrangement — shrouded in mystery and a thicket of non-disclosure agreements — has increasingly raised questions. Why, many wonder, is someone so capable and productive not allowed to make her own decisions? Journalists have produced think pieces and investigative deep dives alike about the conservatorship, and her most devoted fans have mobilized on social media to #FreeBritney from what they believe are exploitative circumstances maintained against her wishes.
Now it’s the subject of a feature-length documentary from a team of journalists at the New York Times, premiering Friday on FX and FX on Hulu. Directed and produced by Samantha Stark, “Framing Britney Spears” charts Spears’ rise from plucky “Star Search” contestant to queen bee of “TRL,” as well as the high-profile unraveling that turned her personal troubles into a national punchline and culminated in the controversial conservatorship.
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