To many people, recording and uploading a few 15-second clips and then instantly making thousands of dollars seems like a dream. For many of the most well-known TikTokers, it’s reality.
Many users of TikTok are probably familiar with the Hype House, a content house (really, a multimillion-dollar content mansion) that formerly held major TikTok stars like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae. Hype House currently boasts 10 or so members who create content together, including popular dances, lip syncs and replications of current trends. The house was founded by 23-year-old Thomas Petrou and 19-year-old Chase Hudson back in December 2019. According to Petrou, “(his) whole goal with this house in the first place was, why can’t people who hit millions of other people be as famous as A-list celebrities?” During late 2019 and early 2020, when the app was on its rise, the group was arguably one of the most well-known content houses across the whole platform. Netflix’s recently released reality show, “Hype House,” takes a look at what day-to-day life is like for members of the content collective.
The show primarily focuses on Petrou’s frustration with members of the house who he feels aren’t doing enough to support the group. The first major conflict is between Petrou and Hudson. Petrou is frustrated that Hudson seems to have moved on from the Hype House while still reaping the financial benefits of being associated with the group because Hudson would rather focus on releasing music and making an album. In Hudson’s individual interviews it’s clear that he doesn’t care to be in the Hype House any longer, but given his significant amount of internet fame, the house would likely sink deeper into irrelevancy if he finally left. However, Hudson struggles to relay his true feelings about his involvement with the house to Petrou.
Petrou is also constantly irritated by other members of the house not doing enough for the group’s success, despite being given an otherwise free place to live with all of their friends and very little responsibility. The laziness of many members is apparent, and it begs the question of how exactly the Hype House is entertaining and even relevant to begin with. With so few distinguishable names, the house that was formerly a star of TikTok now seems like nothing more than a group of somewhat good-looking white people laying around all day, occasionally doing a trending dance to post online, then complaining about how tired, bored or unmotivated they are.
There is definitely something to be said for how social media can affect mental health and how the constant pressure of upholding an online persona can be tiring, but much of the cast fails to see or acknowledge the massive amounts of privilege they have because of their careers. They’re only focused on how horrible their lives have become due to social media, causing the group to come across as even more unrelatable and unlikeable. At one point, Hudson, whose entire career and way of life were made possible due to the Internet, talks about managing personal relationships and how he has become more closed off due to being online, sarcastically saying “Thanks for that, Internet.” The irony is painful.
Even more unnerving to witness is how monetarily driven the members of the Hype House are. Understandably, Petrou believes that Hudson leaving would be “bad for the business,” but he fails to acknowledge any emotional toll Hudson’s absence has taken on him. They both claim they were once like brothers, but Petrou aims to make Hudson leaving come across as solely a financial decision. Perhaps the most unsettling incident of views, clicks and likes outweighing personal emotions is when member Alex Warren records a fake wedding with his girlfriend and fellow Hype House member Kouvr Annon. Annon claims she’s genuinely ready to start a family with Warren and would’ve actually married him, but Warren was more interested in the financial benefit he would gain from the video. In the end, the video didn’t even perform as well as he would’ve liked.
For the most part, the show did nothing other than highlight why the group has lost its hype, but there were also more entertaining moments, mainly those featuring Nikita Dragun and Larray, two less-involved members of the group who both started on YouTube and branched out to TikTok when the app took off. Dragun launched her own makeup brand, Dragun Beauty, and spends a significant amount of time on the show talking about running that business and her motivation to start it: the need she saw for products that would uplift trans women. Meanwhile, Larray discusses what life was like for him growing up in Compton, coming out as gay to his family and how social media has changed his life, leading him to become the influencer he is today. Both brought some much-needed energy and life to the show. Perhaps a remake starring just the two of them would’ve been more watchable than the constant cycle of laziness and complaining the show actually was.
The Hype House’s end has been a long time coming, and perhaps for the sake of the viewers, as well as the members, it’s finally time to put the Hype House behind us.
Daily Arts Writer Jenna Jaehnig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.