If you search for Chippendales in IMDB (International Movie Database) you will discover almost 50 entries. The infamous male dance troupe has been the subject of countless movies, tv-series and even podcasts. Its a wonder then that Disney’s Hulu TV channel decided there was still room for yet another 6 part series on this 44-year-old ‘institution’
We started viewing this with actual scant knowledge of the Troupe so have no real idea of how much of this new take on the story by Robert Siegal (Emmy Nominated for Pam and Tommy) is fact or fiction, so we approached it purely for its entertainment value. However, lets start by saying it’s less about a line of hot buff men stripping and more about all the murders and crimes that surrounded them
The group’s Founder Somen “Steve” Banerjee ( Kumail Nanjiani, ) had initially thought he could build his fortune by opening a Backgammon Hall, but as that failed to even get off the ground he was persuaded to start a male strip club. Initially, he was rather a mild meek man but he was soon persuaded to abandon any morals he had in order for Chippedales to make money. (The name of the group was evidently settled when Steve realized he was sitting on a chair by the 18th Century English furniture designer)
However, all the stripping is actually a backdrop for all the drama of the interesting crime story entangled in the story of Chippendales. (No spoilers here) but as Steve gets greedier the plot gets seedier and thicker and that is what really adds excitement to the series.
Plus there are some very impressive co-stars based on real characters that add to the action. Dan Stevens (taking a break from Downtown Abbey) as nightclub promoter Paul Snider … who Somen decides is a fraud once he spots him wearing a fake Rolex (Steve is fixated with the real ones). There is (Nicola Peltz Beckham) as Dorothy Stratton the pushy actress wife of Snider. Kudos to (the fabulous) Murray Bartlett a choreographer who first becomes enamored of the dancers as a fan before he takes over. And there is Juliette Lewis who as usual playing an oddball Juliette Lewis, plus Annaleigh Ashford as Irene who Steve proposes to after she rattles off a list of the ways the club is missing opportunities to squeeze money out of customers — they ought to pour weaker drinks, with more ice.
Then there are the dancers themselves who would go on to make their fortunes on tips from the packed women-only audiences. However, you do get the very distinct impression that all their eroticism works much better for the audience on screen than for us at home.
The unlikely story of the transformation of Steve from, mild-manned to a ruthless businessman is interesting but not always convincing: the criminal aspects of the story are both shocking and compelling;; and the stripping parts don’t really give a clue as to how the troupe became so famous……. but then after all this series is being made by Disney
Review : Roger Walker-Dack
Editor in Chief : Queerguru Member of G.A.L.E.C.A. (Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) and NLGJA The Association of LGBT Journalists. and The Online Film Critics Society. Ex Contributung Editor The Gay Uk &Contributor Edge Media Former CEO and Menswear Designer of Roger Dack Ltd in the UK one of the hardest-working journalists in the business' Michael Goff of Towleroad