Teen utopia or capitalist commune? Netflix’s Hype House is the most depressing show on TV

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Jake Paul, one of the internet’s most famous social media stars, has inspired plenty of controversy, and no less for Team 10, his own collaborator house. Last year, members of the house alleged that they were “exploited” by Paul, who was controlling their income. These influencers can expect to make millions through TikTok: 17-year-old Charli D’Amelio –who went viral over 2019 for her competitive dance videos and who was one of the first collaborators to join Hype House in 2020 – earned $17.5m last year, making her the highest-paid TikToker of the year, according to estimates by Forbes magazine. Her older sister, Dixie, who was also in the Hype House, was reported to have made $10 million. 

Still, Petrou enlisted several of TikTok’s top-performing young creators to live and make money alongside him in his own Team 10 inspired house. Most of these barely-adults, it turned out, were from broken homes too, and were easily enticed by the notion of getting to live rent-free in a McMansion amongst a simulacrum of community. 

These kids are also given enough money to turn any joke or fleeting whim into a reality. Within the first few minutes of the first episode, a sumo wrestler is brought in by Alex Warren, the self-described “prank king”, to wrestle Hacker. “You said you wanted this,” Warren tells a clearly terrified Hacker. “I just said it as a joke,” he says, as he inches nervously into the ring, cameras all around, filming everything. 

Out of everyone in the house, Warren seems to make the most of the seemingly unlimited budget, as he admits to spending anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 a month on his videos and pranks, making use of helicopters and ultra-expensive vehicles, as though he were making a blockbuster action film. Everyone in the house, including Kouvr Annon, his longtime girlfriend (with whom he films a fake wedding in a desperate attempt to gain views on his YouTube channel), is likely to be pranked at any given moment, adding to the house’s aura of unease. Just imagine the blood pressure.

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