Earlier this year, everyone (including this website) was entranced by the wedding of Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz. It was an old-fashioned union, one between the children of two wealthy and powerful families, and as such, all eyes were on the Palm Beach wedding. Peltz’s name successfully stayed in the headlines back then, mostly due to the fact that she has NO quarrel with her mother-in-law.
But now she has something new to talk about! She has a role in the pilot of Welcome to Chippendales, Hulu’s latest foray into Los Angeles true crime stories set in the second half of the 20th century. Did you know she is an actress? Kumail Nanjiani is the star of the show, playing Somen “Steve” Banerjee, the man who started the male comics revue and then hired a hitman to take out his business partner. But whoever cares about him, we’re here for Peltz.
After a slew of iconic roles in movies like Transformers: era of extinction and the Netflix Christmas movie vacation, Peltz turns her eye to docudrama. In Chippendales, she plays the Playmate Dorothy Stratten, and anyone who knows about Hollywood in the early ’80s knows that she probably won’t appear in any episodes after the pilot. Spoilers ahead for a real thing that happened to a real person in 1980, I guess.
Stratten was murdered by her estranged husband Paul Snider, who committed suicide immediately afterwards. She lived a pretty horrible life under Snider’s thumb and eventually distanced herself from him enough to start a relationship with director Peter Bogdanovich. It was while trying to break free from Snider that she was killed in the house they used to share. It’s a tragic story and Stratten is a tragic character. How are Peltz and the creative team behind Chippendales do to tell that story?
Here she is in her first scene drinking a pink squirrel. She doesn’t say much, as Snider (an ever-great Dan Stevens) does most of the talking. When she speaks, you might think: Oh, that’s what her voice sounds like. It’s a very normal voice and I’ve heard it before, but for some reason it’s always a shock. What else does she do?
Ignore the fact that this is a behind the scenes production image. Here are Dorothy and Paul in a gay club where they like to dance. I assume they both like it because it’s the only place men aren’t lurking for her. Here Dorothy gives Steve the idea for Chippendales; she loses her mind over a go-go boy, screaming “Take it off!” Peltz does a great job in this scene as all she has to do is smile and scream. She manages to look like someone who’s had fun before, which is a direct blow to the Posh Spice ethos.
Immediately after watching the dancer do his thing, Peltz is tasked with doing the hardest acting job of her career. Paul doesn’t like the idea of a “women’s strip club,” and to turn him down, Dorothy says, “I have something to tell you Paul, something extremely shocking, but women get horny.”
It’s hard to describe how Peltz says this line. It’s like she’s an AI robot that hasn’t quite figured out the human cadence yet. Or maybe it’s more of an elementary school Shakespeare production where everyone knows their lines, but no one knows what they’re saying. You think she can’t outdo herself, and 15 seconds later they ask her to say, “But now with the whole sexual revolution it’s all coming out: Erica Jong, Deep throatthe pill.” From this line reading, you can see that she knows exactly what 1.5 of those things are.
In Peltz’s big scene, she’s wearing this hat. The best thing you can say about her on this show is that she always looks great, even when they put her in Dick Tracy cosplay.
It is at this moment that I realized Chippendales wouldn’t be too interested in a real timeline of how our doomed Playmate fared. Dorothy and Paul go to lunch at a very nice restaurant, where Peter Bogdanovich comes to the table and asks Dorothy to come and talk. She comes back and tells Paul that Bogdanovich wants her to audition for his new movie. But there are only 10 minutes left in the episode! How is she going to go to New York, start an affair with Bogdanovich during filming, come back, move in with the director, and then be killed by Paul? Well, the answer is that she isn’t.
Instead, Peltz has circles played around her by Stevens, who goes berserk at the idea of another man being interested in her in any capacity. Peltz is unable to convey the seriousness of this moment, and instead just keeps using the blank-eyed expression she’s been doing for the rest of the episode. We’re kind of aware that she’s angry because she’s storming out.
We then see her at the grand opening of the revamped Chippendales (a new man has arrived to spice up the show, but again, we’re not here to talk about that.). The show asks us to believe that it is she who came up with the idea of the men wearing collars and cuffs on their bare torsos. She is, I think, the throbbing vagina of the Chippendales company. She knows what gets women moving. How to find out is a question that will never be answered.
Before you know it she’s dead. That’s a turnaround for both Nicola and Dorothy. In terms of performances in which blonde women play real-life murder victims who say almost nothing, Margot Robbie fills in Once upon a time… in Hollywood still reigns supreme.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to take away from Nicola’s performance. If anything, it helps clarify why she and Beckham are such a perfect match. They’re two favoritism babies without an ounce of charisma who refuse to let that get in the way of their dreams. Now one is in the making canned sake and one takes over the streaming! Talk about inspiring. Someone should make a show about it That.