A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
This drama both lampoons and champions the idea of "wellness," feeling centered, happy, and healthy, and achieving it through different means (though some shown in this narrative are non-consensual and thus flawed).
Positive Role Models
This is a character-driven drama, but many characters feel inauthentic because of the way they announce their background and intentions. Masha is a duplicitious character who makes very questionable choices and has a complicated backstory; other characters struggle with their own history and the path before them. During the course of this drama, most characters accept themselves as they are and vow to appreciate the good things about their lives.
The cast boasts some diversity in terms of age, race, ethnicity, and body type, and women are at the center of the dramatic action.
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Violence & Scariness
An (off-screen) death drives much of the drama for a set of characters; we see their grief as they cry and talk about their loved one. In a flashback, we see a character fall down on the ground as a gunshot echoes on the soundtrack, then see her with blood all over her face and neck. Characters are given psychedelic drugs non-consensually, which leads to emotional (and law enforcement) consequences.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters talk about sex, like when one reminds her husband that they were once kicked out of a hot springs for having sex in the tubs. Two characters in particular are attracted to each other; expect flirting, kissing, references to off-screen sex.
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Expect "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
This drama takes place at a luxury spa and the trappings of wealth are ever-present: lush and expansive manicured grounds, large elegant indoors spaces, people in designer clothing.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are given a psychedelic drug without their knowledge or consent, which leads to emotional breakdowns on the part of many characters. In other scenes, characters are shown drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nine Perfect Strangers is a drama series based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty. It centers on an ultra-luxury spa that promises renewal and a spiritual rebirth under the control of mysterious owner Masha (Nicole Kidman). Most iffy content is contained in dialogue, like when characters reminisce frankly about being kicked out of a hot spring for having sex in the tubs. Flashbacks have violent moments too: a woman envisions being shot and we see her fall to the ground then in the hospital with blood all over her face and neck; a young child gets stuck in a cord and begins to choke, later we understand he has died. A family visibly grieves a member who died unexpectedly. Characters also drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes, and more relvant to the plot, characters are drugged without consent. Women anchor the action and there's some diversity in terms of age, race, ethnicity, body type, and sexual identity. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch."
Is It Any Good?
It's clearly cut from the same cloth as soapy stunner Big Little Lies, but this drama about a super-secretive wellness resort suffers from a lackluster story, though the cast is choice, and game. Part of Nine Perfect Strangers' problem lies in its setting, where the stressed city dwellers who come together for (they hope!) renewal and relaxation; set free from the cares of their everyday lives, the spa-goers have nothing to do but talk. And so they do! In Liane Moriarity's novel, of course, the soliloquies are the inner thoughts of the characters and go down smoothly; in the TV adaptation, we get dialogue instead, and so much of it. Characters are always announcing who they are and summing up their lives to each other in Nine Perfect Strangers, and it comes off as inauthentic and clumsy. Even powerhouse actors like Regina Hall and Michael Shannon have trouble making their awkwardly expository lines work.
Still, Nine Perfect Strangers is beautiful to look at, and does carry with it the promise of dramatic secrets held back and then revealed as the season progresses. No spoilers here, but it's a pretty unusual twist. It also knows exactly what to do with Nicole Kidman, who's always had an otherworldly, removed air on-screen. Here, her Masha is ethereal, a little menacing, leading her charges to places they think they want to go and then taking them just a little too far. It's all pleasantly soapy, and if it's not perfect, well, you could do worse when you go looking for a guilty-pleasure drama with actors you already know and enjoy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.