Is ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ an Accurate Depiction of the Effects of Hallucinogenic Drugs?

By now, fans of the Hulu series Nine Perfect Strangers are well aware that psychedelic drug use is a big part of the show. Nine unique guests arrive at Tranquillum House in search of healing. The resort owner, Masha, intends to give it to them by any means necessary. Masha microdoses her guests with psilocybin, initially without their knowledge. She also offers her guests other hallucinogenic drugs such as MDMA. In the book, the guests take LSD as well. By episode 6, everyone voluntarily takes a higher dose of psychedelics.

Lars and Zoe raise their smoothie glasses for a cheers. Zoe wears a sweater and jeans and Lars wears pants, a collared shirt, and a jacket.
Lars and Zoe in ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ | Vince Valitutti/Hulu

Nine Perfect Strangers is a fictional series. However, there are real resorts that offer supervised psychedelic experiences. The drugs used in the series are real, but is it an accurate depiction of the effects of these drugs?

There are real psychedelic retreats

Some real-life retreats use psychedelic drugs as therapy for their guests, just like Tranquillum House. Paul Austin is the co-founder of the psychedelic retreat company Synthesis. In an interview with Insider, he discussed the difference between Tranquillum and real psychedelic retreats. Like Tranquillum, other resorts have facilitators on staff to watch over the guests. However, Austin stated that facilitators aren’t supposed to ask probing or intrusive questions like Masha does. “Facilitators are really just there to support you, to help out with anything challenging that’s coming up,” he said.

Another crucial difference is that authentic retreats gain their guest’s consent before dosing them with any drugs. Masha drugs her guests’ smoothies without their knowledge She also allows her guests to wander around the woods while they are on drugs, something a real resort would not encourage. Facilitators would instead ask guests to lie down and listen to music, Insider says. This is much more similar to the way the guests’ drug trip is described in the Nine Perfect Strangers novel.

‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ gets some things right

Austin confirmed to Insider that some people taking psilocybin may have flashbacks of traumatic events. Tony experiences flashbacks of his career-ending injury, and the night when he accidentally killed a man in a bar fight. Lars dreams vividly about his childhood bullies. Heather recovers a troubling memory about Zach’s death.

According to Nemours, nausea and vomiting are common side effects of psilocybin use. Tony, Napoleon, and Frances all vomit from the drugs at different points in the series. Masha also gives Ben and Jessica MDMA instead of psilocybin, stating that it is better for couples. Austin confirmed to Insider that psilocybin wouldn’t be great for relationship therapy. “When you’re on high doses of psilocybin, it’s difficult to communicate with other people and you don’t really want to communicate with people,” he said. “You’re in your own experience, your own journey. You’re deep into yourself.”

Is ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ accurate?

Overall, Nine Perfect Strangers does a pretty good job showing the effects of psychedelic drugs on the guests. Nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and hallucinations are all real experiences caused by these drugs. However, the methods used by the Tranquillum staff are much more dangerous than a real psychedelic resort would encourage. Masha will continue to push the limits of her guests’ safety until someone gets hurt.

RELATED: ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’: Regina Hall Says the Cast ‘Got Into Character’ by Doing Psychedelic Drug ‘Research’