Netflix has attempted to venture into the world of influencers with its new documentary, Hype House. Through eight episodes, it tries to open the door to TikTok’s most prominent content collective, following a group of TikTokers who live together in a Californian content house, but ultimately fails to answer more in-depth questions about the creator economy.
Hype House, which was previously home to TikTok A-listers like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, has definitely lost some of its previous allure. The main conflict of the series is the founder and self-titled “dad” of the house Thomas Petrou keeping the other creators in line and contributing to communal content in order to pay the rent. Unfortunately for Petrou, his content house has become more of an incubator for influencers to build their following and leave when their fame allows them to pursue other projects. And as pointed out in the series, the whole appeal of a content collective is the group dynamic.
Instead of giving insight into how the influencer world works, the show features personalities like Chase Hudson, Charli D’Amelio’s ex-boyfriend and e-boy TikToker-turned-musician, who has nothing of interest to say or share about his route to success. Quotes like “I started to grow my internet popularity through social media and TikTok and just hanging out and meeting people, I guess. And that’s where the love for meeting people and having that deep connection with your friends started, I guess.” I guess is his trademark saying.
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Similarly, many of the other creators explain they ‘fell into’ fame somewhat accidentally and never actively pursued a career in content creation. Unlike many influencers before them, most of the Hype House members never had to gradually build an audience through interaction, consistent content and expertise within a niche because TikTok propels creators to instant internet fame.
Content houses in the UK have also made ventures into the reality genre, with Wave House making their own series on their YouTube channel and also featuring in Channel 4’s Kathy Burke: Money Talks. However, the collective is now defunct due to issues between management and the creators who were living and working together.
Countless other content houses have gone under, like Sway House and ByteSquad, but somehow Hype House is still alive and posting – although the collective’s TikTok account consist mainly of Thomas Petrou promoting their biggest sponsor, Bang Energy.
The show does demonstrate the pressures the TikTokers are under, many of them are still in their teens and balancing commercial deals, death threats from followers, fears of getting cancelled, complicated personal relationships and a pressure to keep posting in order to stay relevant. However, we barely see any content being created (with the exception of Alex Warren’s $70,000 pranks) and at times it seems like the Hype House members have no real desire to be influencers at all.
Picture credit: The Hype House LA via Instagram