‘Allen vs Farrow,’ A Very One-Sided Docuseries
Last night, HBO premiered a 4-part docuseries entitled ‘Allen vs Farrow’ and it didn’t take long to realize that this was a very one-sided exposé. Like many people, I don’t pretend to know what happened between Woody Allen and his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow in August 1992, but is it too much to ask for such a documentary to present a fair view with opinions coming from both sides?
‘Allen vs Farrow’ is a hit job that presents Allen guilty from the get-go and ignores countless facts – I have only seen the first part, but it’s easy to see where it’s going. I just want to list these facts here. Again, I don’t know what happened but there are enough facts and events told by other people to, at the very least, cast some suspicions on the one-sided story told by the HBO docuseries:
1. First, Woody Allen was investigated on sexual abuse for months by two independent teams of experts from two different states: Connecticut and New York. You can find the official document from Yale-New Haven Hospital (CT) here, and the document states: ‘It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements on videotape and her statements to us during our evaluation do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4, 1992.’ […] ‘The major reasons for our opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused are the following: (1) There were important inconsistencies in Dylan’s statements in the videotape and in her statements to us. (2) She appeared to struggle with how to tell about the touching. (3) She told the story in a manner that was overly thoughtful and controlling. There was no spontaneity in her statements, and a rehearsed quality was suggested in how she spoke. (4) Her descriptions of the details surrounding the alleged events were unusual and were inconsistent.’
The report, also visible here, claims that Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse were probably a combination of two things: Dylan’s statements were not true but made up by an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family, and she was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow.
In 1993 (7 months later), Allen received a letter from New York State’s Department of Social Services telling him that the 14-month investigation had been closed: ‘No credible evidence was found that the child named in this report has been abused or maltreated. This report has, therefore, been considered unfounded.’
2. Mia Farrow found out about Woody and Soon-Yi’s affair in January 1992 when she discovered nude photos of her adoptive daughter in Allen’s apartment. According to Soon-Yi herself, Mia was understandably furious and told Allen’s sister, Letty Aronson: ‘He took my daughter, I’m going to take his.’ This just sounds like revanche, and Soon Yi has always believed that her relationship with Allen fueled the inquiry into the allegations surrounding Dylan.
3. Thanks to Mia’s narrative, a lot of people believe that Woody Allen had an incestuous relationship with his stepdaughter, but it is important to set the record straight once again. First of all, Soon-Yi was adopted by Farrow’s previous husband, André Previn, and she has said that Allen ‘was never any kind of father figure [to her]’ and that before 1990 they had rarely even spoken to each other. Allen and Farrow never got married and they kept separate apartments when they were dating. In an interview with Vulture, Soon-Yi said: ‘Woody wasn’t interested in meeting us, children. And the feeling was mutual; we weren’t interested in meeting him. I hated him because he was with my mother, and I didn’t understand why anyone could be with such a nasty, mean person. I thought he must be the same way.’ Ironically, Farrow suggested that Woody should spend some time with Soon-Yi when she was 20, he agreed and started taking her to Knicks games, and their relationship started at this point. We are far from Mia Farrow’s infuriating depiction of the event, we are far from the ‘grooming’ story. As for the scandalous age difference, Mia Farrow married Frank Sinatra in 1966 when she was just 21 and Sinatra was 50, which is about the same age gap as between Woody and Soon-Yi. Farrow also cheated on Sinatra with The Mamas & The Papas’ John Phillips during their brief marriage and she started her relationship with Andre Previn while he was still married to his second wife Dory Previn, who later wrote a scathing song, titled ‘Beware of Young Girls,’ about the loss of her husband to Farrow. Farrow got even pregnant before Previn was divorced and the betrayal led to Dory Previn being hospitalized after a nervous breakdown. Before the affair, Mia and Dory were close friends. Finally, Satchel Farrow, now Ronan Farrow, who was born when Farrow was with Allen, has been rumored to be Frank Sinatra’s son for a long time. Mia Farrow didn’t even deny it when Vanity Fair asked her if Ronan was the son of Sinatra: ‘Possibly,’ she answered, while the Sinatra family has kept close ties with him. Allen still considers Ronan as his but said: ‘I think he is, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. I paid for child support for him for his whole childhood, and I don’t think that’s very fair if he’s not mine. Also, she represented herself as a faithful person, and she certainly wasn’t.’ No other comments are needed, but for Mia Farrow to take the moral high ground over Allen and Soon-Yi’s inappropriate affair is quite ridiculous.
4. The Farrow family is not foreign to child molestation as Mia Farrow’s brother, John Charles Villiers-Farrow was sentenced to 25 years in prison, with 15 years suspended, for child sex abuse in 2013. He has spent several years in Maryland’s Jessup Correctional Institution and was found guilty of having abused two boys, one for seven years, beginning when the boy was nine, and another boy from the ages of 8 to 13. This has nothing to do with Allen’s story except that having a proven child molester in your close entourage looks very weird, to say the least. Especially when this same brother had the nerves to declare to People in 1992, that Allen ‘is going to be indicted, and he’s going to be ruined. I think when all of it comes out, he’s going to go to jail.’ Moses Farrow also wrote that Mia told him that ‘she was the victim of attempted molestation within her own family,’ which makes you think that this type of behavior was rampant in the Farrow family
5. Another point concerns Dylan Farrow herself, who declares herself to be an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Why hasn’t she said anything about her uncle? She grew up around him, Moses reported that this same uncle has visited them multiple times when they were young. If she is a victim of molestation at the hands of Woody, why wouldn’t she be expressing something with regards to her uncle John? And what about Ronan Farrow, the champion of the #metoo movement and self-declared investigative reporter: he has also been very vocal about the Allen subject but has never said anything about his uncle’s crimes?
6. When she discovered the affair between Woody and Soon-Yi, Farrow was furious as everyone would have been, but this is another level of crazy: she sent Soon-Yi away and said that the young woman was regretting everything and was suicidal, something that Soon-Yi has denied. Farrow also sent Allen a Valentine’s Day collage, a heart upon which she’d pasted a family photo. She stuck skewers through the hearts of everyone in the picture and a real knife through her own heart… A voodoo-like collage to give you the creeps.
7. This feeling is echoed in the testimony of psychologist Dr. Susan Coates who testified during the trial. She said that Farrow’s behavior became increasingly erratic after she learned about the affair. ‘Farrow described Mr. Allen as ‘satanic and evil,’ Dr. Coates said, adding that Ms. Farrow pleaded with her ‘to find a way to stop him.’ ‘I understood from Mr. Allen that Miss Farrow had repeatedly called him and said that she thought he should be dead, that she wanted to kill him,’ Dr. Coates testified. But Farrow mentioned at another point in the conversation that she and Allen had the week before been discussing the possibility of getting married. ‘Do you think I should marry him?’ Farrow curiously asked. Four days later, Coates said Farrow phoned again to say Allen had abused Dylan. Coates even remembers Farrow been extremely calm during the call, in contrast to her agitated state in other calls. ‘I was puzzled because in that conversation she was very calm,’ Dr. Coates said. ‘I did not understand her calm.’ In just 4 days, according to this doctor, Farrow went from marrying Allen to accusing him of the worst.
8. In the series, Allen is described as ‘obsessed with Dylan,’ and curiously, this is how Soon-Yi also described her mother 2 years earlier, when talking about her relationship with Satchel/Ronan. Farrow ‘was never able to love more than one person at a time,’ Soon-Yi said. ‘I guess, so all her focus when Satchel came went to him. I remember she would be in the room with the door closed, nursing Satchel or sleeping with him, and Dylan would be outside the door, crying.’
9. Then, there is the heated controversy around Mia Farrow’s ability to be a good mother. She adopted 10 children and gave birth to fourth, and her Mother Theresa figure was definitively destroyed when one of her adoptive children, Moses Farrow, published this essay in 2018. The image of the well-blended family was, according to Moses, just a façade, and he recalls ‘instances in which I witnessed siblings, some blind or physically disabled, dragged down a flight of stairs to be thrown into a bedroom or a closet, then having the door locked from the outside. She even shut my brother Thaddeus, paraplegic from polio, in an outdoor shed overnight as punishment for a minor transgression.’ Mia and Soon-Yi didn’t get along and Moses describes her sister as Farrow’s most frequent scapegoat. The stories told by Moses echo Soon-Yi’s interview with Vulture in 2018, when she explained she had a little learning-disability that didn’t go well with Mia:’ I’ve never spoken about it, because Mia drummed it into me to be ashamed about it’… ‘She would also tip me upside down, holding me by my feet, to get the blood to drain to my head. Because she thought — or she read it, God knows where she came up with the notion — that blood going to my head would make me smarter or something.’ Soon-Yi recalls Farrow slapping her across the face and spanking her with a hairbrush or calling her ‘stupid’ and ‘moronic,’ and even throwing a porcelain rabbit that could have really hurt her. Soon-Yi and Moses also described a hierarchy among the large family: ‘She didn’t try to hide it, and Fletcher was the star, the golden child,’ Soo-Yi said to Vulture ‘Mia always valued intelligence and also looks, blond hair and blue eyes.’ According to Soon-Yi, the adopted kids were ‘doing the grocery shopping, starting in third grade, for the entire family, while, in Connecticut, Lark cooked, and we cleaned the bathrooms, cleared the dishes, washed up, and did the sweeping. When Woody started coming up to Connecticut, I ironed Mia’s sheets.’ Moses describes a tyrannic and very abusive Farrow, ferociously punishing her children for minor acts, beating him repeatedly. Strangely, three of Farrow’s adopted children died tragically: Tam Farrow, who had been adopted from Vietnam at the age of 13 and blind, died at the age of 21 of a reported heart failure, but Moses claimed that Tam struggled with depression, ‘a situation exacerbated by my mother refusing to get her help, insisting that Tam was just ‘moody.’’ Moses claimed that Tam committed suicide by overdosing on pills, after one final fight with Mia. His other brother Thaddeus also committed suicide by shooting himself in his car, and his sister Lark also struggled with addiction and finally died in poverty from AIDs-related complications in 2008 after having two children. All these events are serious accusations of negligence and abuse, and if you cannot be always responsible for the lives of your children when they are adults, these 3 tragic deaths paint a very dark picture.
10. Moses was 14 when Dylan’s molestation allegedly took place, and he clearly remembers what happened. Meanwhile, Ronan was 4, and even though he pretends to remember everything in the docuseries, I have my doubts about what someone can remember when they were 4. Curiously, Allen and Farrow continued a ‘relationship’ several months after Mia had discovered his affair with Soon-Yi, and Allen was visiting the kids at Farrow’s house in Connecticut. Curiously, after repeating to the kids that ‘Woody was ‘evil,’ ‘a monster,’ ‘the devil,’ and Soon-Yi was ‘dead to us,’ he was still allowed to stay around the kids, at the condition the kids would watch him: ‘my mother had put all of us on notice not to let him out of our sight,’ recalls Moses. In his blog, Moses denies the allegation, ‘how could anyone witness an assault if it never happened?’ he writes. He even denies there was an electric train set in that attic, as Dylan described it in her story. He questions Dylan’s entire story and especially the part when Woody supposedly whispered promises of trips to Paris and movie stardom. ‘Kind of odd enticements to offer a 7-year-old,’ he notes ‘rather than a new toy or a doll?’ This sounds more like a grown-up thought and something that Mia Farrow could have suggested herself. Dylan said Allen took her in the attic while Moses was supposed to watch Allen’s every move and when the house was filled with people. There is even something stranger mentioned by Moses ‘There were no complaints by the nannies, and nothing odd about Dylan’s behavior. In fact, Woody and Mia went out to dinner that night. After dinner, they returned to Frog Hollow and Woody stayed over in a downstairs bedroom – with, apparently, no abnormal behavior by Dylan, and no negative reports from any of the grown-ups.’ So? Then, one of the nannies said she had seen Woody placing his head in Dylan’s lap, but another nanny, Monica Thompson, said during the trial in the Allen-Farrow child custody battle changed her declaration. She said that ‘she didn’t really mean it’ when she said Farrow was a good mother and admitted that ‘she had to say so or she would have lost her job.’ She quit her job a few months after the alleged molestation incident, saying that Mia was pressuring her to take her side and support the accusation. Monica also testified that she saw Mia taping Dylan describe how Woody had supposedly touched her in the attic. ‘I recall Ms. Farrow saying to Dylan at that time, ‘So Dylan, what did daddy do? Did daddy ask you to take off your underwear?’ Dylan appeared not to be interested, and it took Mia two or three days to make the recording. Not only it is unusual for a parent to film such a thing, as the potential victim is usually interviewed by investigators, but some have even suggested that Dory Previn’s unsettling song ‘With My Daddy in the Attic‘ could have inspired the story.
11. And there is another point: if Woody Allen is a child molester, he is one of the very few child molesters who was accused only once. Child molestation is a compulsive sickness and deviation and this is a behavior that demands repetition. Dylan would have been the only one he had ever molested? And does a child molester stay married to the same woman for 20 years?
12. In 2005, Mia Farrow flew to London and went to court in defense of Roman Polanski, as Hollywood.com reported at the time, while Sunday Times newspaper, reported that ‘Mia regards Roman as a close friend and she says she will do all she can to help him.’ The least we can say is that this shows some strong inconsistencies in her behavior, since there is no doubt that Polansky raped a 13-year old after giving her alcohol and drugs in 1977.
13. Lastly, it is a she-said-he-said story, so far the documentary just offers testimonies of people and no concrete evidence. We have to know that Woody Allen was never asked by the police to pass a polygraph but he took one spontaneously and passed. He asked Mia Farrow to take one, and she refused.
I am not impressed by the work of Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, the two filmmakers responsible for this new docuseries. If they wanted to call it ‘Allen vs Farrow’ they had at least to present both sides of the story. I wanted all the above examined and all the people cited interviewed and incorporated in the story. So far (and could it be like that for the entire 4 episodes?) this is strictly devoted to Dylan and Mia Farrow’s accounts and sources who supported their arguments. Whatever happened or did not happen, this is not journalism, this is propaganda. Ronan Farrow, who has always supported her mother and who is abundantly featured in the series, is developing a series of investigative documentary specials for HBO, documenting the abuse of power by individuals and institutions, a theme largely claimed by Ziering and Dick. And this cannot be a coincidence.