Hulu’s newest dramedy binge comes in the form of the strange, but star-studded, Nine Perfect Strangers. Critics were given access to the first six episodes, which does indeed provide a taste of the bizarre wonders of Tranquilum. There are a fair share of surprises in store—Nine Perfect Strangers does however tell a far more linear and straightforward story than I was expecting. It unravels the layers to its characters with no sense of urgency, letting the audience fill in the cracks.
Life got you down? Trying to lose weight, or feeling in desperate need of a reboot? Tranquilum might be the answers you seek! It is certainly the destination for the titular nine strangers, as they arrive from all walks of life with one thing in common. Our cast of misfits include: Napoleon (Michael Shannon) plus his wife and daughter that have come in the wake of a tragedy (as well as a major price break); Francis (Melissa McCarthy), a famous author headed here for “healing and massage” just after submitting her new book to a publisher; Jess (Samara Weaving), a beauty blogger interested in meditation, yoga, and healthy eating, accompanied by her Lamborghini-driving husband (Melvin Gregg); housewife Carmel (Regina Hall), looking to “be transformed”; uptight gay businessman Lars (Luke Evans); and finally, overzealous yet playfully aggressive Tony (Bobby Canavale), whose backstory is not fully disclosed until episode four.
The only thing that connects them is their mysterious benefactor, Masha (Nicole Kidman), who promises that in just ten days time, they will no longer be the people they once were: “happier, healthier, lighter, freer.” To become anew, they must kill their former selves—metaphorically speaking, of course. It turns out to be a far more eventful vacation than any of them were anticipating, from microdosing to goat eulogies to grape-tossing antics, Michael Shannon singing “You’re the One That I Want” in his underwear, and everything in between!
The show starts off a little slow, but gets better with each passing episode. Each one provides kernels of detail to flesh out characters, and nearly every one ends with a revelation or two that made me somewhat excited to see where they would take it next. The dynamic shifts multiple times, often within the same episode. One of my favorite ones to see evolve is the friendship between Tony and Francis.
Nine Perfect Strangers is certainly shot skillfully, with every single episode directed by Warm Bodies and 50/50 director Jonathan Levine. It creates a consistency in vision and execution that only the highest-quality television productions can muster. Unfortunately, with such a large roster, there are bound to be some people who fall through the cracks. There is some underutilizing of the talent; for instance, Samara Weaving, as the blogger, gets a minimal amount of plot relevance. I will still check out the last two episodes for sure when they reach Hulu. I think my hopes were just a bit too sky-high based on the pedigree of all involved.
Nine Perfect Strangers invites you on your wellness journey when the first three episodes debut exclusively on Hulu on Wednesday, August 18th.