A still from the new Netflix reality show. Hype House, Tommy Petrow, 22, the de facto leader of the eponymous content collaboration TikTok, is calling a meeting to discuss the lack of fuss.
When they get together – there may be 10 or so people – he looks around the room and wonders how the group got so small.
“Everyone else has become too famous,” one of them laughs.
This line contains the central tension Hype Housewho somehow manages to be made to be young, rich and famous in L.A. is terribly depressing. The Hype House members, now in their 20s or 20s, live together in a mansion and create content for TikTok as a collective, believing that bringing more contributors together will make their videos more dynamic and engaging.
However, no one in the house seems to be enjoying themselves. Throughout the show’s eight episodes, members of the house are palpably upset, consumed with the need to succeed, watching their peers soar to heights they know they may not be able to achieve.
Even Chase “Lil Huddy” Hudson, one of the founders who became the breakout star, is under stress. Hudson, credited with aiding the resurgence of emo among Gen Z, has been signed Interscope Records, and here it is seems to understand that he needs to leave his old friends in order to advance in his musical career. Hudson approaches this dilemma with the awkwardness of a freshman trying to ditch his high school friend during Thanksgiving vacation. It is clear that he wants to move on – he has moved from Hype House to his own mansion – but he is well aware that his influence has been a major factor in the group’s success. What have they got without him?
“Chase is the man who made Hype House what it was. Since he’s not here, everything about this brand falls on me, ”notes Petrow in one scene, noting in another that Hudson can take any member to new heights simply by posting them on his page from time to time, but he doesn’t.
The hype house was started at the end of 2019 by Hudson and Petra and at one point were considered real TikTok sensations such as D’Amelio sisters (Charlie makes a brief appearance on the series, but does not give interviews) and Addison Ray among his ranks. Today, however, many stars are gone, leaving Peter to run the stable of less experienced and lesser known creators. “Lesser known” is all relative; Everyone has millions of TikTok followers in their homes, but the rest of the team doesn’t enjoy the same recognition as its superstar alumni.
“We were like family… it was so much fun just to create content every day, and now times have changed,” laments Petru, interspersed with nostalgic excerpts from old Hype House videos.
This is a problem for Petru, who is trying to keep Hype House financially afloat. He’s having trouble motivating his squad of mostly indistinguishable white dudes to contribute to the profit of the house (one scene cuts from Petru lecturing the group about their laziness to a shot of one member throwing a potted plant into the sleeping figure of another).
While Petru worries on camera about working 10-12 hours a day to fulfill brand partnership agreements that everyone in the house pays for, members like Connor Yates, 23, and Michael Sanzone, 19 years, lounging around, acting like, well, young people without adult supervision and with very little responsibility. “I am so bored!” Yates complains.
Ironically, the interesting thing about most of the Hype House members given their popularity is how boring it is to watch them. Most of them are so memorable that I couldn’t name most of them, and very few, apart from Hudson and Petru, have a storyline spanning eight episodes. They all merge together, a mass of white, pretty young people wandering around the house, snacking in sweatpants and occasionally arranging pranks or regular dances on TikTok.
Larrey, a YouTuber and partly involved Hype House member, explains in one scene why he no longer goes to the house as often. “The vibrations don’t hit,” he says.
Larrey and fellow YouTube star Nikita Dragoon (who is friends with many of the members) are by far the most watched actors, which is odd because Dragoon is not actually in Hype House, and none of them made it to TikTok in the first place. … They are so secondary to the collective that you have to wonder if they were brought in by producers to make up for the boring Hype House crew (they are also, in particular, the only POCs on the show).
Youtubers could certainly host the show on their own. Dragoon is irresistible (that’s how she got so famous!), But she often feels like she’s on a whole different show. She discusses the intricacies of managing her makeup line, which she developed after failing to find the products she needs as a trans woman, and drives around LA in her fuchsia sports car, complaining about Trisha Paytas attacking her. on Twitter. I could watch more hours of just this. But this Hype House – in the end she has to trudge there to do business with the team. She gets the boys to wear makeup and heels, and while it’s not as fun as watching her come off, it gives them respite from the monotony of boring TikTokers.
Known for his YouTube comedy, Larrey also stands out by discussing his path to fame on social media and how it has impacted his life. Larrey is extremely dynamic on camera, with a unique presence. In one poignant scene, he discusses how he estranged himself from his parents when he declared himself gay. His own team seems more closely connected than the Hype House team, from his loving grandmother and aunt in Compton to his roommate Ravon, who used to be a fan and caught Larrey’s attention by posting a message. Carpool Karaokevideo of youtuber in the passenger seat.
Meanwhile, the members of the house who have storylines mostly upset me. Vinnie Hacker, the creator who looks like he stepped out of the Abercrombie catalog, fights openly. As Dragoon describes it, Hacker is “extremely sexualized” on TikTok due to his hot body, but in reality he is just a gamer at heart who wants to go to Twitch, not post lust traps.
The other two members who are getting significant screen time are young couple Alex Warren and Carpet Annon, who are 20 years old and are the first members of Hype House. Both Warren and Annon tell the cameras about their tumultuous childhood and the instability they experienced before finding each other and the House of Advertising. This story contextualizes Warren’s throbbing anxiety that emanates from him every time he appears on screen. He constantly talks about getting more views, how popular he is and how to stay popular.
This forces him to plan more and more ambitious draws with average results. In one attempt, Warren injures his ankle and spends many scenes waddling around. In another, sadder scene, he convinces Annon to arrange a fake wedding for a video he is confident will get a lot of views. Annon is quietly crushed; she says she would marry Warren for real, but he makes it clear that he is only interested in a stunt wedding. Annon tells the cameras that she is ready to start a family with Warren, even though she is only 20 years old. Aware of the inappropriateness, the rest of the house awkwardly embarks on a fake wedding.
“I think it’s a little cruel to be honest, but at the same time, it’s like I’m guessing something from the views,” Dragoon jokes. (Warren later admits that the video didn’t work out as he hoped.)
All of this highlights the central issue that Hype House is a shell of itself. There is a lot of pressure to perform well, and these expectations seem to have an impact on TikTokers’ mental health. Even Peter’s “Hail Mary” attempt to restore the old magic – a big group trip to the Joshua Tree, where they can all create together in a new environment – ends in disappointment. After a night of fighting and bad mood, Petru falls to the ground outside. He names the names of famous girls from Hype House: Charlie, Dixie, Addison.
“I wish they would talk to me someday,” he says.
“I’m just so afraid to go back where I came from,” says Petru (he also talks about a difficult upbringing in the series). Annon later tells Peter that the same fear drives Warren, who admits on camera that he is “very depressed.”
The drama unfolding in Hype House reminds me of an audio line from TikTok, lyrics by Taylor Swift: “I think I’ve seen this movie before and I didn’t like the ending.” Content houses like Hype House have been popular ever since YouTube celebrities became something special, and they are not a guaranteed path to fame and fortune. Perhaps the most famous of these, Jake Paul’s Team 10, was also once a social media darling and has earned several stars; Petru himself was even briefly a member.
Since then, however, Team 10’s home has been accused of hosting guests. bullying and sexual harassmentand Paul was accused of exploiting the participants and embezzling their profits. The house was searched by the FBI in 2020 after Paul was investigated for looting a shopping center in Arizona.
But perhaps most important to the members of Hype House, many Team 10 members have disappeared into obscurity. Many are still in the industry today, such as Nick Crompton, who was able to leverage his Team 10 experience by becoming VP of Commercial Innovation and Artist Strategy at Universal Music Group, and Alyssa Violetwho works as an Instagram influencer. But their influence has mostly faded and they’ve been supplanted by newer, more shiny objects – mostly, well, the folks at Hype House.
At the end of the show, Petru seems to be pondering the fact that Hype House may not linger in this world. “It just doesn’t work anymore; I think it’s time to close [the Hype House] down, he says.
In the final episode, Petra reveals that many of the key members, including Annon and Warren, have left, even though they are still in the band. It still exists, but the dysfunction makes you wonder: Is Hype House still here because of the Netflix show and not the other way around?
If I was prone to conspiracy, I would say that this show was made with the explicit purpose of convincing teens that being famous on social media sucks. “I feel like a child who has all the toys in the world, but no batteries to operate them,” says Petru in the last episode, holding his head in his hands. Every member of Hype House seems unhappy and you just want to hug them, find a good place to sleep, and a 24 hour social media break.
Hype House it’s certainly an interesting insight into the shenanigans of content houses and the struggles that go with them, but it’s not a very fun or interesting show. In the end, I implored Hype House to disperse and end our suffering as well as theirs. ●