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Hulu's Nine Perfect Strangers Reviews Are In: Here's What CinemaBlend And Other Critics Say About Nicole Kidman Drama

Nicole Kidman looks serene as Masha in Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers, making its Hulu debut on August 18, is the story of nine people who arrive at the mystical Tranquillum House hoping for a transformative experience. The adaptation of Liane Moriarty's bestselling novel features an ensemble of A-list actors within its gorgeous Australian setting, where mysteries abound among both the guests and the staff running the retreat, all under the supervision of the ethereal Masha, played by Nicole Kidman.

The series reunites Nicole Kidman with Liane Moriarty, who wrote both Nine Perfect Strangers and Big Little Lies, and with David E. Kelley, who created the adaptations for the aforementioned novels. With the success of HBO’s Big Little Lies — as well as The Undoing, which was also created by Kelley and starred Kidman — there’s much anticipation for this latest project. So what are critics saying, now that they’ve had a glimpse inside Tranquillum House? Let’s take a look, starting with our own mini-review.

CinemaBlend’s Nick Venable praised the cast, notably Bobby Cannavale and Regina Hall, and the masterful way all of the actors blend the suspense with the comedy. He also recognized the series for adapting Liane Moriarty's book into a more screen-friendly format.

While Nine Perfect Strangers' blending of genres and tones won't be everyone's cup of fruit smoothie, there's a method to the uneasy and emotionally fraught madness. It's quite possibly Hulu's most gorgeous original series yet, and the A+ cast delivers on all fronts, whether things are depressingly tense, uncomfortably hilarious or disturbingly surreal. Most of the guests end up becoming more engrossing than that of Masha herself, despite the abundant flashback-filled attention that's paid to the retreat's host, with Bobby Cannavale's Tony and Regina Hall's Carmel as the easy standouts in the group. What's more, Nine Perfect Strangers is the relatively rare adaptation where changes from the source material make perfect sense for episodic storytelling.

On the flip side, TV Line noted that while the series boasts an impressive cast, led by Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy, the characters’ stories and personalities struggle to come together.

As talented as these actors are, the material they’re given here is flimsy and threadbare. It’s an awkward blend of personalities and tones that never meshes together; the actors seem to be acting on two or three different shows, at least.

The Hollywood Reporter also thought the Hulu series lacked any deep dive into its multiple characters in the episodes screened for critics, and questioned which aspect of the show viewers are supposed to be invested in.

There are a lot of things that are treated like twists but aren’t, pointing to a narrative structure that’s more a math equation — a 10-day retreat for nine strangers told over eight episodes — than the Agatha Christie-style parlor mystery you might crave. The show simply doesn’t know what it wants you to invest in, or why. It surely isn’t in the threatening text messages Masha is receiving, nor in seeing which characters get the healing they need, because they’re mostly secret-keeping composites with no emotional hook other than whatever affection you have for the actors coming in.

Variety pointed out that Nicole Kidman’s somewhat limited screentime — which allows viewers to get to know the nine strangers at the retreat and the baggage they’ve come in with — prohibits her from taking a firm grasp on the series.

One wishes for more Kidman: Not a bigger performance, which seems impossible, but one that more firmly holds the show’s center. The risk Nine Perfect Strangers has taken, in its first six episodes, is keeping her relatively unknowable. Enigma is one thing, but Masha, the cryptic element in a story that otherwise establishes character frankly and economically, can feel as if she’s being withheld from us.

While other reviews were troubled by the different tones each character brought, Collider found delight in the ensemble's mix of genres, calling the Hulu series “one of the most intriguing shows of the year.”

As it takes place at a wellness resort, Nine Perfect Strangers features a lot of smoothies on screen, which becomes a pretty good metaphor for how moments of comedy, drama, and legit horror blend together for a dense, rich, and often tasty concoction.

Most critics seem to agree on one thing, at least. While Nine Perfect Strangers debatably misses the mark in places with its narrative and tone, the talent of the collective cast makes this series worth checking out for anyone on the fence.

The first three episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers will be released August 18 on Hulu, with new episodes dropping each Wednesday. While we wait, be sure to check out our 2021 Fall TV schedule to see what else is coming soon.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.