On April 22, Netflix announced a deal for a new reality show with several TikTok creators, many of whom are part of the group known as the “Hype House.” While the announcement may not be surprising to those who have been following either the TikTokers themselves or Netflix’s evolving business model, it prompted almost immediate backlash on social media, especially on TikTok.
Since the announcement, social media has been full of people claiming they would cancel their Netflix subscriptions in protest. A quick look at the comments on Netflix US’ recent social media posts also shows widespread dissatisfaction, and even calls for Netflix to cancel the show. Is this outrage really warranted?
The Hype House, founded in 2019, is a content house of TikTokers in their teens and early twenties who live together in Los Angeles and film themselves dancing, doing skits, or just hanging out together. The group takes after some of its YouTube predecessors, such as Jake Paul’s infamous “Team 10” or David Dobrik’s “Vlog Squad,” but concentrates on short-form media conceived for TikTok’s traditional 15 to 60-second videos. While groups like the Kardashians have proven talent unnecessary in recent years, there is nothing unique about the group besides their talent for capturing clicks, likes, and shares. The Hype House has been involved in multiple scandals, from holding parties during the pandemic to sexual assault allegations against its members. Even with their millions of subscribers, it seems fair to say that the Hype House is one of the least well-regarded groups of social media stars.
The plan for a Hype House reality show is consistent with Netflix’s current business model, which is less focused on quality content that will last and more on a constant flow of new material. This is clear in some of Netflix’s recent business decisions, such as allowing competitors to poach some of the biggest draws in its catalogue — Friends is now only available on HBO Max, The Office on Peacock, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Hulu.
Somewhat more controversially, Netflix has also started a pattern of cancelling even its most popular shows after only a couple seasons. The exact reasoning behind this is not entirely clear, but some connect it to the fact that Netflix makes most of its money from subscriptions, and the best way to attract new subscribers is to offer lots of new shows rather than fourth or fifth seasons of older ones. Netflix also doesn’t need long-running shows as much as network TV did, due to its far more accessible library of shows allowing viewers to more easily try new ones.
The Hype House show could exceed expectations, possibly by examining the lives of these influencers — humanizing them without excusing their more questionable actions. But this seems unlikely. Netflix’s recent history in reality TV (Love is Blind, Too Hot to Handle, Selling Sunset) suggests that the new show will likely be a high-drama, low-concept piece that simply provides avid Hype House fans with what they want: more content about their favorite creators.
Whether the show itself is a mistake or not, it will likely garner more vitriol towards both Netflix and these TikTok creators, simply fueling the fires of online hatred. However, despite pleas from fans, it is unlikely that the show will be cancelled right now, as it will undoubtedly be a lucrative venture for both parties.