So many of us have spent far too many hours scrolling through feeds featuring adorable alpacas, silly parrots, crochety cats and floofy dogs to take a break from the tragic pandemic news. Netflix’s new reality series Pet Stars is for those who follow more animals than people on Instagram. The show follows the people who turn pets into social media stars, giving you a sense of what goes into creating that perfect shot to win a creature thousands of followers. It’s also a goofy show with production style that occasionally mimics social media reels, complete with “animal voices” and a cast of weird and wonderful animal stars.
Colleen and Melissa, who run Pets on Q, a Los Angeles-based talent management company that represents “the biggest animal influencers on social media”, show viewers what it takes to scout for furry, feathery and even scaly talent, audition them, and then turn them into—yes, we’re going to use the word—animal influencers. The two of them look for animals for films, commercials and brands as well as for licensed images, such as stock photography archives and greeting cards. They also have tips to build your pet’s following up on social media—as with humans, it’s about choosing a voice, a style and a character and staying true to it and posting consistently.
The five half-hour episodes focus on the more unusual of the creatures Colleen and Melissa have worked with—from dogs, cats and tortoises to a fox and a bearded dragon or pogona. The line-up is wonderfully quirky—from a cleft-lipped dog named Puka who shares salad with a tortoise named Rocket Larry to a scene-stealing pig named Charlie to Skyler the surfing dog. There’s a bunny that paints, a sassy cockatoo and a dog that looks like Donald Trump.
Pet Stars starts with Colleen and Melissa on a hunt for the “ugliest dog in the world” to win a contest of the same name (though, of course, they’re from the US, so just scouring various sunny Californian towns is “the world” to them). They cast creatures for a pet clothing line, hold a pet fashion show to have animals adopted, use their social media skills to raise funds for an animal shelter, all the while signing on new clients and brands.
The show is as much about unusual animals and what it is to make them stars as it is about the two enterprising women who clearly love animals and have found a way to turn their passion into a lucrative line of work. They do seem to care for the creatures they book, seeking safe and good working conditions for the animals while trying to ensure the owners get a fair deal from brands.
The show, of course, highlights the best part of their job—scouting for furry stars, accompanying them to shoots and events. For the most part, their jobs—or so Colleen and Melissa say—involve checking their proprietary algorithm to track the next big star, chasing down bookings for their roster of 1,000+ creature clients, matching the creatures to the brands, organising logistics, answering emails and surfing social media. But really, it doesn’t seem so bad if it means looking at adorable animal videos for hours in a day.
Pet Stars is on Netflix