The Daily Stream: Nine Perfect Strangers Reminds Us That We're All Searching For Something

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Series: "Nine Perfect Strangers"

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu

The Pitch: We're all searching for something. We're all battered and bruised, no matter what face we present to the world. That was true before the pandemic, but now even more so. There are plenty of people and resources that try to help, as well as ones that are opportunistic about it or fully taking advantage of personal pain. 

In the dramatic miniseries "Nine Perfect Strangers," we're not sure what exactly we're seeing at first. A mysterious woman named Masha (Nicole Kidman) has a wellness spa called "Tranquillum House" in the California countryside, and nine people show up to get away from their stress and go through some healing. Their issues are varied, from a former famous athlete (Bobby Cannavale) who developed a drug issue after an injury and a couple that seemingly has it all but is still dealing with marital issues (Samara Weaving and Melvin Gregg) to a family that has lost one of their own in a devastating way (Michael Shannon, Asher Keddie, and Grace Van Patten). 

One person who is there to heal is author Frances Welty (Melissa McCarthy), who has been unable to write since some romantic mishaps and is dealing with what it's like to age in the industry and lose faith in love. We can understand and empathize, if not fully relate with each of these people and their desire to try one more thing to get them back on track. (Frances' storyline is the best of them all.)

Why it's essential viewing

Of course, when you put a group of people in one place, each actively dealing with dark issues, it can be volatile. Regina Hall plays a woman who has had problems with violence in the past, and it puts her in conflict with everyone. Add in a secret reporter (Luke Evans) who is trying to get information for an exposé, and it's a recipe for a blowup.

There is a mystery here, which you will likely predict early on, but it's not really the point. What I took from the series is that all of us have things that we're working on. Some we might not be able to relate to, but we can at least understand what it's like to be undergoing enough stress to take a drastic step like this.

What is actually happening in terms of the retreat is secondary, though one could argue that this series is a critique of the wellness industry. While there are certainly good things that have come out of the discussion of self-care over the past decade or so, a whole lot of people and companies have ventured into dangerous territory. What the show does so well is spotlighting the manipulative side of wellness, as well as why we need some form of it in the first place. It also emphasizes that an experience lived together can bring out sides of people that they didn't know were there. 

The series isn't perfect, but it's really entertaining, and it makes you think about how you'd react in this situation and how much you can let yourself go with strangers. It also reminds us that, no matter how you do it, taking a look at your patterns and your relationships can be healing in unexpected ways.