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Review: Hulu/Disney+ Series ‘Welcome to Chippendales’

A sprawling true-crime saga, “Welcome to Chippendales” tells the outrageous story of Somen “Steve” Banerjee, an Indian immigrant who became the unlikely founder of the world’s greatest male-stripping empire – and let nothing stand in his way in the process.

“Welcome to Chippendales’” star-studded cast includes Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”), Murray Bartlett (“The White Lotus”), Juliette Lewis (“Yellowjackets”) and Annaleigh Ashford (“American Crime Story”), with recurring guest stars Quentin Plair (“The Good Lord Bird”), Robin de Jesús (“tick, tick… BOOM!”) Andrew Rannells (“Girls5eva”) and Spencer Boldman (“Cruise”), along with guest stars Nicola Peltz Beckham (“Holidate”) and Dan Stevens (“Gaslit”).

Robert Siegel and Nanjiani executive produce alongside Dylan Sellers, Jenni Konner, Matt Shakman, Emily V. Gordon, Nora Silver and Rajiv Joseph, also write on the series along with Mehar Sethi. Siegel and Konner serve as co-showrunners and Shakman serves as director. Jacqui Rivera is co-executive producer and Annie Wyman is co-producer.

This review is based on all eight episodes.

The series starts off with our first look at Somen Banerjee who is a hard-working gas station manager.  Somen, who later changes his name to the more American sounding “Steve,” is dedicated to his job and lives a low-key life where he scrimps and saves enough money to own his own gas station, however, this is not Steve’s American dream.  Instead, Steve opens a backgammon club in Los Angeles.  When that idea is slow to take off, Steve attempts to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks including a disco tech, mud wrestling matches and even oyster eating contests.  In the end, it was one simple idea that was perfected by making smart business moves and hiring key players that turned the club into the legendary Chippendales nightclub in the 80s. Chippendales still exists today at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Banerjee, who is played by Nanjiani, is quiet, dull, loves American pop culture, and almost has a child-like quality about him.  Over the events in the series, we see the complexity of Nanjiani’s character begin to change.  There’s an underlying anger bubbling inside that drives him into a downward spiral as he struggles to maintain control of his empire. The character ultimately has a likeabilty factor and along the way, we begin to understand him.  He’s smart, brilliant, and always thinking, however, these traits cannot save him from his demise.

Nanjiani’s performance is outstanding, however, all of the cast deliver brilliant portrayals of their roles and any Emmy nominations would be well deserved.

From the very beginning. “Welcome to Chippendales” hooks and reels you in with incredible pacing.  Siegal, who was also the showrunner for Pam & Tommy, delivers a show that is gripping, edgy, thrilling, and mesmerizing.  While not a comedy, the show infuses humor at opportune moments.  Ultimately, the series is expertly crafted and a true masterpiece.

The music is just as much a part of the show as the characters. Catchy tunes enhance the scenes and Siddhartha Khosla (This Is UsOnly Murders in the Building) composed the original score for the series.

“Welcome to Chippendales” will release on Hulu in the US and on Disney+ in Canada, Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 with two episodes.  New episodes will release every Tuesday through January 3, 2023.   All 8 episodes will begin streaming on Disney+ in the UK and Ireland on January 11, 2023.

You can watch a trailer for the series below:

Michelle Beck
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