Why Hulu's Nine Perfect Strangers Title Still Makes Sense For Its Related Characters, According To One Star

nicole kidman's masha and grace van patten's zoe at cookout in nine perfect strangers episode 5
(Image credit: hulu press)

Based on the best-selling novel from author Liane Moriarty, Hulu's new drama Nine Perfect Strangers tells a complicated and trauma-filled story, utilizing one of the best ensemble casts on TV. The story follows nine people aiming to better their lives with a visit to Tranquillum House, a retreat run by Nicole Kidman's enigmatic host Masha, but not all of those visitors are actually strangers. There's a married couple played by Samara Weaving and Melvin Gregg, as well as a familial unit that includes Michael Shannon, Asher Keddie and Grace Van Patten, and there are even a couple of famed folks in the group.

Certainly, Nine Perfect Strangers is an more pleasant title than Two Perfect Strangers, Two Semi-Celebs, A Couple And A Family, but just because some characters are familiars doesn't mean the TV series' (and novel's) title is erroneous. It just can't be taken so literally. While speaking with Nine Perfect Stranger's cast ahead of the Season 1 premiere, I asked star Grace Van Patten to share her thoughts on why the title is still fitting for the particular grouping at play. And as seen in the video above, she answered with:

Yeah, I think we're very much a unit, and although we are dealing with our grief in very different ways, we come there together. And we come there for the same reason and with the same hope of trying to reconnect as a family. So yes, we're not strangers to each other, but some may say maybe we are at this point in our lives, because we are very disconnected at the point when you meet us. It's not the same as it's been, and this traumatic event really split us apart, and we're not on the same page. So maybe we are strangers in a weird way.

While I won't be parceling out any novel or TV spoilers right here, suffice to say Grace Van Patten's answer does speak directly to her character Zoe's relationship with her father Napoleon (Michael Shannon) and her mother Heather. While there are still very clear bonds between the trio serving as evidence of a long and loving life together, there are also very clear scars and less-healed wounds caused by a shared tragedy. Everyone reacts to tragic events in their own way, of course, and it's in between their respective responses where the disconnect is birthed, leading to a point where each has developed personality traits that aren't at all familiar to their loved ones.

As well, Nine Perfect Strangers' title is arguably also speaking to the idea of celebrities and athletes being viewed in certain ways by fans, even if it's not at all representative of real life. Just because you're seen someone in a dozen movies, or read a dozen books of theirs, it doesn't mean you actually know the person, so they're as much of a stranger as someone whose writing you've never even heard of.

(Image credit: hulu press)

Even though she's not one of the titular "Nine," at least to our knowledge, Nicole Kidman's salary-breaking role as Masha is intentionally cloaked in mystery, but with a reputation that precedes her. So in that way, many of the guests have heard of her through former visitors' success stories, though she's absolutely a "stranger" to all involved when they arrive. And even for quite a while afterward, for most characters.

So it's technically a good thing that everyone is taking advantage of Masha's knowledge and her techniques, so that those closest to each other in the group will no longer feel like strangers in their personal lives. Of course, if everything went according to a best case scenario, there probably wouldn't be any reason for Nine Perfect Strangers to exist, would there?

Boasting the TV return of Melissa McCarthy, as well as stars such as Bobby Cannavale, Manny Jacinto, and Regina Hall, Nine Perfect Strangers will make its streaming debut on Hulu with its first three episodes starting on Wednesday, August 18. And while waiting to meet Masha at one of the most gorgeous TV retreats you've ever seen, read what critics thought about the new drama, and check out all the other big shows hitting the 2021 Fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.