Hulu has built up an above-average stable of true crime dramas over the last few years, including, in no particular order, Under the Banner of Heaven, The Act, Candy, The Girl from Plainville, and the true crime-adjacent series, The Dropout and Pam & Tommy. Next up is Welcome to Chippendales, the story of the 1980s’ “Chippendales murders” starring Kumail Nanjiani as Somen “Steve” Banerjee, the founder of Chippendales. This is one of two projects about the Chippendales murders, though the feature film starring Dev Patel remains in development. Now that Nanjiani’s Chippendales series has beat it to the punch, I wonder if we ever even see the Patel movie.
Vanity Fair has a first look at Welcome to Chippendales, which was created by Robert Siegel, writer of The Wrestler, and directed by Matt Shakman, who has directed a lot of prestige TV over the last several years—Game of Thrones, Succession, WandaVision—but who lives in my heart forever as one of the most frequent directors of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It looks appropriately Eighties. Nanjiani is sporting those aviator-style creep glasses that are making a comeback for some unknown reason, and Juliette Lewis is sporting big hair. And is it just me, or does Murray Bartlett, here portraying Chippendales choreographer Nick De Noia, look a lot like Brad Pitt?
Also, there is already big emphasis on Nanjiani’s transformation for the role. He didn’t pack on muscles this time, though, it’s all about his emotional makeover from comedian to dramatic actor. I don’t know why people still act surprised when comedians turn out to be good dramatic actors. Comedians are ALWAYS good dramatic actors. (Dramatic actors are rarely good comedians.) And it’s not, as Siegel says, because “they are usually tortured souls”. It’s because being good at comedy demands understanding people, the good, the bad, the ridiculous, the shameful. Besides, Nanjiani has already shown his acting chops on Silicon Valley. A comedy, yes, but a fairly dark one at times, and Nanjiani never shied from that darkness in his performance. Anyway, don’t expect me to act surprised when it turns out Kumail Nanjiani can do drama, too.