For all you Liane Moriarty fans expecting another series as compelling and fun as Big Little Lies, Nine Perfect Strangers is not that. In its first 3 episodes, Hulu's Nine Perfect Strangers tries; it really does, but even with its fantastic cast, geez, it’s boring.
What happened to that Big Little Lies magic formula? The one where you get beautiful people, insert drama and a compelling story, and you’re left on the edge of your seat wondering what happens next, and have a connection to the characters and are invested in all their mess?
Nine Perfect Strangers is a Snoozefest
Nine Perfect Strangers is messy, but unfortunately, I just didn’t care. Sure there are attractive people, and yes, there is some drama, maybe? I don’t know, because nothing happened! But they did try to insert some suspenseful music every so often.
Nine strangers come to Tranquillum House, a fancy and expensive wellness retreat, for some rest and relaxation. The guest list was put together and chosen by the mysterious and ethereal, Masha (Nicole Kidman). No phones allowed and they are promptly collected when guests arrive.
There’s Frances Welty (Melissa McCarthy), a once-popular romance novelist who got scammed and burned by a man she loved; the Marconi family (Michael Shannon, Asher Keddie and Grace Van Patten) who lost a son and brother to suicide; Ben (Melvin Gregg) and Jessica (Samara Weaving), a hot, young married couple who is using the retreat to rekindle their relationship; Lars Lee (Luke Evans), a suspicious and unpleasant man who was recently dumped by his boyfriend; Carmel (Regina Hall), a chipper, yet self-deprecating divorceé who has anger issues; and Tony (Bobby Cannavale), an ex-football player addicted to painkillers.
At first, it’s hard to feel empathy for their suffering as rich, miserable, foul-mouthed human beings. The Marconi family seem to be the only ones who got a discount since he’s on a teacher’s salary. Personalities clash, and some of the characters even have “chance” unpleasant encounters with each other on the ride over to the secluded, yet beautiful, location.
We learn some back story on some of the characters in the first couple of episodes, but again, nothing really happens. Since there are no real activities at Tranquillum House, all they have is each other. Sure, there are creepy texts Masha receives threatening her, and some inappropriate touching between her and her employees, but that cannot sustain one’s interests for too long. Oh and there’s also the smoothies. Several artsy shots of smoothies being blended. I think they’re trying to tell us something about these smoothies.
Oh wait, there was a sack race. Because there is a lot to learn from children, and this exercise is meant to create joy and laughter. That sack race was the happiest I saw the characters, and even that scene was forced and ridiculous. Every time Masha had them do something, I would scream, “Why are you paying all this money for this??!!” You know rich people would get up out of there after their 5-star service did not meet expectations.
And as each character expressed their frustration and displeasure, again I asked why they didn’t just leave. I cannot count the ways this show was so frustrating, but sorry, reader, this psychodrama is a big snoozefest.
Could it get better? Sure. But I wouldn’t bet my smoothie on it.
Nine Perfect Strangers is streaming now on Hulu.
Tania Lamb is an entertainment and travel writer and owner of LolaLambchops.com. She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic and a huge Marvel and Star Wars fangirl. Also a snack enthusiast, it's hard for her to resist the smell of popcorn at the movie theater, no matter how hard she tries.