A Perfect Disaster: What Happened With Nine Perfect Strangers? | american tv
There are several reasons to devote hours of your life to a television series: to be provoked, to laugh, to explore universal elements of the human condition, to be totally engrossed, to be turned on by voyeurism, fashion / wealth porn or hotness, to have fun (voluntarily or not). Nine Perfect Strangers, the Hulu limited series which premiered on August 18, would appear to be offering at least some of these prints.
The eight-part show comes with the pedigree of cable TV – created by David E Kelley (of HBO’s Big Little Lies and The Undoing), based on the 2018 book by Liane Moriarty (author of the source material for Big Little Lies ), with a stacked cast including Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Regina Hall, and Bobby Cannavale, among others. It has cult vibes, a mysteriously impenetrable central figure in Kidman’s Russian-accented Masha, a lush location (a spa retreat in California, albeit filmed in Byron Bay, Australia), a hot topic rich in skewers ( well-being culture) and the perennial television draw of the wealthy, mostly white miserable people (as seen in the aforementioned Big Little Lies, The Undoing, Succession and The White Lotus).
But for all the promising elements amassed by the series, Nine Perfect Strangers is oddly, downright boring. This is a case study of so-called Prestige TV parts – unencumbered length, overworked performance, atmospheric tracking shots, and a disturbing score masquerading as depth – tantamount to a dud, intriguing blocks with no alchemical glue. While arguably not the worst show of the year, Nine Perfect Strangers is, especially given the cast, the most disappointing, with a clear, yawning gap between what the creators say. think they do and the show that actually exists.
The show suffers from some baffling logistical questions: How are none of the guests at Tranquillum, the dubious wellness center Masha run, aware of the cellphone-less policy before their 10-day retirement? How did guests discover and subscribe to a place that doesn’t advertise and, apparently, word of mouth? During the six episodes offered to critics, each of the characters poses and wonders why they are sequestered in Tranquillum – “why am I here?” The stranded ex-jock Tony (Cannavale) cries in the fourth episode – unfortunately prompting the same question from the viewer. Why are we here for hours in this shallow pool?
“Prestige” is usually associated with a deep or even high budget, but Nine Perfect Strangers is not the first and is unlike the second. Director Jonathan Levine, who helmed all eight episodes (six of which were available to critics) is trying to establish a shortcut for the eerie aspect of Tranquillum, the dubious wellness center nine guests arrive at, through shots close-ups of ecstatic characters (shouting, meditating) and slow-motion shots of smoothies whirring in blender. The effect only underscores the show’s thin characterization and contrasts unfavorably with the intoxicating and unsettling vibe of Big Little Lies (directed by Jean-Marc Vallée) and the coldness of The Undoing (directed by Susanne Bier).
Given Masha’s vague proclamations (“we’ll heal you”) and nods to big trends (wellness retreats are “just another construct to separate the rich from their money and get them to feeling good about themselves, ”tweets Luke Evans’ Lars), Nine Perfect Strangers refers to a broader critique of the emptiness and self-improvement cycle of wellness culture. But any satire is blunted by the sincere seriousness of the series and Masha’s impenetrability. It’s a central void compounded by other issues, namely that the characters’ motivations are stated bluntly and barely go beyond barely sketched archetypes.
A show doesn’t have to be an effective review to be “good,” that is. watchable. But Nine Perfect Strangers fails to provide less cerebral reasons for hooking up: Kidman’s wig looks like a Lord of the Rings costume (McCarthy sports at least a decent lipstick set), the brief sex scenes are lacking. of heat (and, in the case of Masha and sidekicks Yao and Delilah, just confusing). The chemistry between characters (sexual or otherwise) is barely a flicker in five episodes.
Nine Perfect Strangers certainly wasn’t helped by the premiere just days after HBO aired the finale of The White Lotus, the summer word-of-mouth TV hit that’s also a stacked set of strangers reuniting. in a lush hotel, and much more scathing, focused and fascinating satire of the privilege of wealth. It also doesn’t benefit from Hulu’s commercials, which caused me to pick up my phone on a show that never really convinces you to put it down.
But neither overshadows the show’s main sin: its presumption of public interest based on flashy parts – that if you put just enough famous, scheming actors in one gorgeous location, talk. around a vague burning theme, suggest danger, sketch motivation, and fill the rest with airy shots of verdant food and flora, that should be enough to keep people watching.
Nine Perfect Strangers ultimately resembles the shots of Masha’s microdosed smoothies he favors so much – pretty jarring elements mixed with just a drop of transcendence.