Review by Sean Boelman
Hulu already has one wild-but-crazy true crime hit this year in Pam & Tommy, but as if that wasn’t enough, they’re back for more with the murder saga Welcome to Chippendales. While the series might suffer from pacing issues, it’s nonetheless a thoroughly entertaining ride with an unexpectedly compelling story.
The show tells the story of Chippendales founder Steve Banerjee and his tragic fall from success. The fact that this story happened almost 30 years ago and is now receiving the spotlight — with more adaptations on the way — is pretty nuts, but it will satiate the American public’s craving for true crime stories.
The show’s biggest issue is its pacing, which feels quite rushed. The eight-episode series moves along at a breakneck pace, almost as if we’re only getting a quick rundown on the events. We’ll get one scene to represent an entire court case, or we’ll have a gap of months or years between episodes, and it can be disorienting at times.
Recently, there has been a trend in television to make shows in which around 90% of the characters are complete backstabbers, and yet find a way to make them compelling. Welcome to Chippendales accomplishes that in spades. While Banerjee’s actions might be pretty deplorable, his ambition grounds the show quite well.
Despite somewhat questionable casting, as Banerjee is Indian and Nanjiani is Pakistani, Kumail Nanjiani does an excellent job in his role. It’s a role that, in other hands, could have easily become the subject of ridicule. However, Nanjiani has both the comedic chops to make the role funny and the dramatic ones to pull off the tragic elements of the character's story.
The supporting cast also shines. Murray Bartlett delivers yet another scene-stealing supporting role, making viewers wonder where he has been all these years and how he is just now getting the spotlight he deserves. Dan Stevens also has a memorable role in what might be one of the wildest stunt castings of the year.
The series embraces the campy element of the subject matter for its execution, and so the execution has an altogether ridiculous vibe to it. While there are a few sequences that go overboard to the point of looking cheap — like one of the montages — it feels intentional and works quite well as a result.
Welcome to Chippendales is a wild, entertaining, and binge-worthy new miniseries. While there are some issues with the pacing and grasp of time, it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable watch nonetheless.
Welcome to Chippendales streams on Hulu beginning November 22. All eight episodes reviewed.