Netflix’s show Hype House dropped on Friday, and in my first post about it, the big question was, “will it get any hype?” It ultimately worked against them in their bid for traditional celebrity status. The goal for almost all influencers is to get to a point where they would be able to find success in both social media and traditional media, but the way most Hype House members presented themselves, there’s no reason to believe that they are up for it.
The reality series follows the content creation collective Hype House, which became famous in 2019 when TikTok started taking off. At that time, Charli D’Amelio, Dixie D’Amelio, and Addison Rae were part of the group as well. Since then, they’ve left Hype House to do their own thing and now the main characters of the Netflix show are leader Thomas Petrou, his girlfriend, Mia Hayward, and other cast members Chase “Lil Huddy” Hudson, Vinnie Hacker, Nikita Dragun, Larri “Larray” Merritt, and Alex Warren.
As someone who grew up during the influencer era on social media, I’m more inclined to give social media influencers credit for their work. I’ve seen influencers put hard work into content they truly love, and influencers who have successfully crossed over to straddle social and traditional media, like Shawn Mendes. It’s not the same for people who didn’t have the same experience with their own entertainment consumption. With that in mind, I was convinced the Hype House would use this series to show the general public about their hard work, talent, and why they deserve to make the crossover—especially on such a big platform like Netlflix. Instead, the show was really about how Hype House is falling apart, mostly due to a lack of passion, drive, and motivation. And while I appreciate how real they were about the struggles the group faces, it ended up working against them in their bid for fame.
Thomas, who described himself as the “dad” of the group, says that he wants Hype House to be like a Nickelodeon or Disney, a really big goal to have, although I do see where he’s coming from because TV for kids today are social media apps. However, Thomas is seen trying to relight that fire the group had in the start, and is consistently met with not much effort. To their credit, they were honest about the realities of influencer life, like expenses and pay. Turns out all of the Hype House members were living rent free in the $5 million mansion as long as they post once a month on the Hype House TikTok page, with the hopes of making around $80,000 on that page to keep everything afloat. You’d think that wouldn’t be much, considering they get to live in a house for nothing while also bringing in their personal mounds of cash. However, we see Thomas crying under stress at one point because his constant requests for people to take things seriously and post on the account are ignored.
There are also a few scenes where you see some members lying around on couches complaining about being bored instead of making content. Vinnie admits that he doesn’t even like TikTok in the first place. At this point, it didn’t feel like drama—it felt like a sad messy financial hole that these kids in their twenties have trapped themselves into because they thought they found a quick way to fame and fortune. But in the celebrity world, nothing is a coincidence, mistake, or unplanned. Everything is meticulously put together in a way that demands structure and dedication, and this is what Hype House lacks: strategy. While these members were lounging around on couches and complaining about being bored, Miley Cyrus for example, at the same stage in her career years ago, was filming shows and doing tours. I’m sure there were times when she didn’t want to because she was a kid, she was tired, and probably under lots of pressure. But that’s also the disciplinary foundation that took her to where she is today.
Of all the Hype House members, Lil Huddy appears to be only one who has a vision for himself. He made it his goal to separate from the app to do music (my favourite line of the show is when Lil Huddy says he wants to be like Beyoncé). We see how that becomes a point of tension in the show because he was a part of putting Hype House together in the beginning. In the end, he finally tells Thomas that he is going to leave the group to focus on his own career. He even tapped into the mysterious relationship status thing we see celebs do all the time in interviews by being hush-hush without being too hush-hush about where his relationship stands with ex-girlfriend, Charli D’Amelio. She shows up here and there in the show, but she is never given a formal interview or is a main character in the show (they never forget to mention how she used to be in the Hype House multiple times which is no surprise because she has the most-followed account on all of TikTok).
Lil Huddy may seem like an example of how the Hype House can create potential stars. But watching his journey through the show gives the impression that people who left the Hype House left because it was holding them back. As for Charli, Dixie, and Addison, I’d argue that they got their fame due to the rise of TikTok—not solely because of the group. One way to remedy that would be for Hype House to truly figure out what they are passionate about as a group and chase that instead of just chasing fame for fame’s sake.
Although Thomas says he has hopes for Hype House to be like a Nickelodeon or Disney of social media, that is a HUGE project to take on with lots of work that needs to be done with a group of people actually willing to put their all into it. There’s no way to compare what goes on in the Hype House to what stars like Demi, Selena, Ariana, and Miley did. It was their life. I don’t think all of the influencers currently in the Hype House are willing to make it their lives. With how fast the internet moves on to the next hot thing, it seems like it already has, and Hype House’s time to hit heights like those has passed.