January 08, 2022
The reality show about the LA collective of TikTok stars is a bleak portrait of the relentless, inarticulable Job of being oneself online
Hype House: Netflix series shows the depressing side of TikTok fame
The Hype House, a collective of some of TikTok’s most famous stars in the hills north-west of Los Angeles, appears to be a very lonely place even with somewhere around 10 residents between the ages of 17 and 23. Bird’s-eye shots of the house in its eponymous Netflix reality series – to date, arguably the most prominent attempt to translate TikTok fame to the formulas of major streaming platforms – capture a property of isolation and excess: a grandiose villa with a cluster of palm trees atop a barren, brown hill, an empty driveway save for a brightly painted school bus. Inside, a collection of Social Media influencers and creators – Instagram, YouTube and, most predominantly, TikTok – traipse about impersonally deluxe rooms trailed by a constant cloud of content. They’re either making some (planning, rehearsing, filming, being filmed), lamenting the pressure to do so, or avoiding the churn entirely in an anxious, bored malaise.
In confessionals which open the series and recur throughout the five episodes made available for review, the Hype House stars attempt to explain their fame, their jobs and the experience of being known by millions of people and having your worth — and income — quantified by followers. Like sisters Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, the TikTok stars and former Hype House collective members in Hulu’s Kardashian-esque The D’Amelio Show, and Gen Z music superstars Billie Eilish and Juice WRLD (who both blew up on Soundcloud) in their respective 2021 documentaries, the kids find the experience of social media fame basically inarticulable.
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