Did Nick De Noia fly too close to the sun or was he taken down by his own fierce ambition during a time that his queerness was misunderstood and unappreciated? De Noia was a showman, and Emmy Award winner Murray Bartlett has charisma to spare in Hulu’s limited series, Welcome to Chippendales. What Bartlett expertly does, though, is tap into this ringleader’s loneliness as he produces some of the most fantastical shows on earth.
It sure is lonely at the top, but it doesn’t help that De Noia is creatively blocked every step of the way by his employer, Steve Banerjee. Kumail Nanjiani’s Banerjee is solely business-minded in a world driven by creativity and glitz, and every time Bartlett is denied something to complete De Noia’s vision, the divide grows wider. These men are very similar, but they are both too stubborn to embrace it.
When De Noia escapes to New York City to open up the second chapter of Chippendales, he creates something that he can be proud of. De Noia wants to entertain the audience as much as he wants to titillate. When Banerjee visits for the opening, he sees snow for the first time, and he and De Noia get a glimpse at what their friendship can be. It goes sour when a playful snowball fight goes a little too far, and Banerjee tells De Noia, “You’re a bully.” Bartlett’s character could brush that off, but we see it hit him in an unexpected way.
Bartlett, constantly hiding behind large glasses and chomping on a cigarette, makes De Noia a character who has had to hustle his entire life but we see him flirt with settling down. Maybe Nick De Noia never thought he was worthy of love, but Chippendales becomes his great passion.
Welcome to Chippendales is streaming now on Hulu.