Nine Perfect Strangers Series Premiere Review: Hulu's Trippy Drama is Worth WatchingLaura Nowak at . Updated at .
When you combine bold storytelling, dysfunctional relationships, uncomfortable truths, a health spa, and an all-star cast, you get pure fun.
Nine Perfect Strangers, an original Hulu series based on the New York best-selling novel by Liane Moriarty, explores how nine spa guests' lives change when they meet at Tranquillum House, a wellness spa.
Full disclosure: I've read the book, and I reread it recently in anticipation of the series. The series kept the heart of the novel and only made the characters more fun to watch.
In Nine Perfect Strangers Season 1 Episode 1, we're introduced to all nine guests, the health consultants, and the director Masha, played by Nicole Kidman. Kidman truly shined since you could never tell if she wanted to heal her guests or if she had a sinister plan.
Masha: The people that come here live fairly good lives. They come here for the suffering.
Frances: I don't want to suffer.
Masha: You're already suffering.
The cast had such an easy and natural chemistry with each other that I was glad that we saw so many different interactions between all of them. One of the main differences between the book and the TV series is the series got rid of the noble silence.
In the book, Masha required the guests to be silent for the first four days of their stay, partly because she didn't want them to form relationships. Instead, this time was to be spent on meditation and reflection.
The series switches that up by combining meditation and adding fun interactions between the guests. Some of them butted heads early, such as Tony and Frances, while others formed beginning friendships.
One of my favorite early interactions was between Napolean and Ben and Jessica in the hot springs. He was out of his element.
Ben: I'd be happy to give you a ride, even let you take it for a spin.
Napoleon: OMG! You're not kidding.
Ben: The offer is only limited to my car. You're looking at my wife like you want to take her for a spin.
It's obvious that Nine Perfect Strangers is about becoming your best self, no matter the cost or the method, which sometimes becomes creepy. By the end of Episode 1, we'd barely scratched the surface on these guests' issues.
We knew there were two marriages in danger for very different reasons, and those were the characters that intrigued me the most. Napoleon (Michael Shannon) and Heather (Asher Keddie) played two parents grieving their son but not together so realistically.
Ben (Melvin Gregg) and Jessica (Samara Weaving) learned how winning the lottery can change your relationship. It's not something many of us think of. Besides the two couples, we only learned a bit about Frances (Melissa McCarthy) and her perceived failures.
From the first meditation session, Masha is confronted about her past and why she took all their contraband.
Masha believes in past death and rebirth, a continuing theme, which is hard for the Marconis.
Heather: You know why we're here. Do you really mean to fuck with us like that?
Masha: I mean to fuck with all of you.
Relationships got even messier in Nine Perfect Strangers Season 1 Episode 2 as more truths came to light. Zoe experienced a panic attack when Masha talked about death and rebirth.
Zoe tried to convince herself and everyone else that she and her twin weren't close, but she wouldn't be grieving that hard if they weren't.
When Frances tried to comfort Zoe, Heather looked horrified that someone else reached her daughter when she couldn't.
There you have it, our phony family baggage, which was also searched by the way.Zoe
I truly felt for Heather. Napolean is so happy and bubbly and believes everything happens for a reason. It's hard to believe that an 18-year-old boy commits suicide for a reason. I understand why she feels so alone and depressed.
When Masha had everyone dig holes and lay down in their graves, I wondered how the Marconi family would do. It's one thing to play pretend. It's another to live through it.
Heather tried to be strong, but she wandered off and almost jumped off a cliff. Part of her probably wanted to end her suffering and see Zach again.
Delilah acted like a crisis aide would and approached her gently. This was Tiffany Boone's shining scene so far.
Do you know what they say about holding hands? It's intimate. It can be more intimate than lovemaking even.Delilah
The core group of Masha, Yao, and Delilah is intriguing. It's touched on briefly in the first two episodes, but we learn a bit more about it in Nine Perfect Strangers Season 1 Episode 3.
Yao has some obsessive attraction and connection to Masha. However, his romantic relationship with Delilah seems genuine.
There are times when Masha seems to gently taunt Delilah for being too worried about the guests and other times where she wants Yao to take care of Delilah.
It's almost like she is the puppet master of their relationship.
Delilah is tight. I think you’ve been neglecting her, Yao. You’ve got a good one here. I hope you appreciate her. Do you?Masha
During Episode 3, "Earth Day," the guests became more comfortable with each other. On a hike, Heather actually felt comfortable enough to go skinny dipping with Delilah. There is something about Delilah that puts Heather at ease.
She helped the women share. We're so afraid to see past the outside and are afraid we're not pretty enough, or that looks only matter, so it's easy to see why Carmel and Jessica had perceived notions.
Like so many women, Heather admitted that her sex life with her husband was non-existent, and once she admitted that she thought he should have an affair, she felt freer.
That worried Zoey for fear that her mom was putting her affairs in order.
The smoothie has become its' own character as we spend as much time watching the blender spin as we do on some of the characters.
At the celebration dinner, all hell broke loose. Napolean rambled about when their son killed himself.
After Heather realized he wasn't himself, she questioned if Masha was drugging them.
What a cliffhanger to suck us in!
We're three episodes in, and I still feel like we've barely scratched the surface on certain characters. We barely know anything about Carmel or Lars or what their issues are. As I watched the first two episodes, I kept checking the book to see if Carmel was new.
They need to flesh them both out. I also hope we get more backstory on why Delilah and Glory work for Masha.
The first three episodes were a wonderful introduction to Nine Perfect Strangers, and I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks. Future episodes will drop weekly on Wednesdays.
Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.