The Hulu Original Welcome to Chippendales landed on the streaming platform on Nov. 22, and it tells the rags-to-riches story of Somen “Steve” Banerjee. Banerjee founded Chippendales, the most successful male dance troupe in history, but he started from nothing. The show follows him from a humble gas station manager to a successful club owner, but it takes a dark turn. While based on a true story, Welcome to Chippendales showrunner Rob Siegel wanted to make something with more flare.
‘Welcome to Chippendales’ creator Rob Siegel doesn’t want the series to ‘feel like a Wikipedia page’
If you watched the recent docudrama Pam and Tommy, then you’re familiar with Siegel’s work. It followed the story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s infamous sex tape and the fallout surrounding it. That series also showcased a party lifestyle indulging in the classic sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Siegel says he was drawn to the story in Welcome to Chippendales for several of the same reasons.
Speaking to Esquire, Siegel explained, “On a macro level, it checks all the boxes I look for, which is some element of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I just love things that are, at first glance, somewhat trashy, fun, and have a real strong pop cultural bent.”
However, transforming an overall sad tale ending in multiple deaths into something audiences clamor to see is no small task. Siegel manages to make it seem easy, though.
“You want to make something that doesn’t feel like a Wikipedia page,” Siegel said. “You always want to tell the true story without being bound to it or restricted by it.”
‘Welcome to Chippendales’ goes from a rags-to-riches story to murder quickly
When we first meet Banerjee, played by the fantastic Kumail Nanjiani, we learn just how serious he is about pursuing the American dream. Despite being offered a stake in a chain of gas stations with his boss, he turns him down, stating that’s no longer his dream. Instead, he wants to open his own backgammon club. However, the good people of Los Angeles aren’t interested in playing backgammon on their nights out. Banerjee brings on Paul Snider, who tells Banerjee about his work as a successful nightclub promoter. We later learn Snider lied, but Banerjee, along with Snider and his wife Dorothy Stratten, start to pave their way to success.
By the end of Welcome to Chippendales Episode 1, Snider murders Stratten in a fit of rage before turning the gun on himself. It’s a very dark ending for a series that quickly dazzles audiences with the flashing lights and bright colors of the disco era. Despite the tragic ending for Stratten, the series somehow manages to keep the feelings of the audience mostly upbeat.
Siegel aimed for that shocking moment to knock viewers off their axis, “We wanted to end the first episode on something dark and shocking—because there’s so much fun in the first episode. And then to slam the door shut with this murder, it set the tone that there was going to be this dark undercurrent.”
Not everyone in ‘Welcome to Chippendales’ is based on a real person
While the overall story of Welcome to Chippendales comes from a true story, not every character in the series actually existed. For example, Siegel says both Otis (Quentin Plair) and Denise (Juliette Lewis) are “mostly fictionalized.” Plus, Nick de Noia’s lover, Bradford, played by Andrew Rannell, never existed at all. Regardless, the story of Banerjee’s rise to success keeps the audience’s eyes glued to the screen in every episode.
Check out Welcome to Chippendales, streaming exclusively on Hulu.