Ryan Murphy has a new limited series just released on Netflix, titled Hollywood. You might know Murphy from some of his other projects like The Politician, Pose or Glee. There are things about his new project that are inspiring, and others that need to be written a lot better, so they make me rage. These are things that I am going to cover in this review.
Let’s get started.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
If you are curious as to what exactly Hollywood is about, Netflix has provided us with a summary.
HOLLYWOOD follows a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II Hollywood as they try to make it in Tinseltown — no matter the cost. Each character offers a unique glimpse behind the gilded curtain of Hollywood’s Golden Age, spotlighting the unfair systems and biases across race, gender and sexuality that continue to this day. Provocative and incisive, HOLLYWOOD exposes and examines decades-old power dynamics, and what the entertainment landscape might look like if they had been dismantled.
Casting includes David Corenswet as Jack, Darren Criss as Raymond, Jeremy Pope as Archie, Laura Harrier as Camille, Samara Weaving as Claire, Dylan McDermott as Ernie, Holland Taylor as Ellen Kincaid, Patti LuPone as Avis, Jim Parsons as Henry Willson, Jake Picking as Rock Hudson, Joe Mantello as Dick, and Maude Apatow as Henrietta.
The series is Executive Produced by Co-Creators Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, along with Alexis Martin Woodall and Janet Mock, who also serves as a writer and a director.
I’m going to be completely honest with you. I watched all seven episodes of Hollywood in one night. I’m going to try to remember my first impression as I watched the first episode. I will definitely say that my thoughts and feelings definitely fluctuated quite a bit as I binged. There were moments that I laughed and, there were moments that I quite honestly was disgusted, which we will get to later.
What really made me want to review Hollywood in the first place is the era. Whether it be the 1940’s or World War Two, the era completely fascinates me. Combine that with the golden age of Hollywood, and I was all for it.
The first episode draws you in with Jack sitting in a movie theater being completely drawn in to the lure that is Hollywood, with the glitz, glamour and fame. I was hooked within the first ten minutes. I was living out my high school dream through Jack. Sure, I didn’t want to be an actor but I wanted to be apart of Hollywood. Just more behind the scenes.
Then Ernie happened. This is where my current feelings took their first detour and it wouldn’t be the last.
WHAT I LIKED
What I really like about Hollywood is that Ryan Murphy tried to create a universe where people get to live out their dreams. The color of their skin, the communities they belong to or their beliefs be damned. As long as you were talented, you could achieve your dreams.
Unfortunately, that is just not possible in the real world all the time. The world is in a better place than in the forties, that is undeniable. But minorities, females, the LGBTQ+ community and many others are still extremely unrepresented. Not only in Hollywood, but in all facets of the world.
Murphy attempted to bring us along and make us believe that everyone will get a happy ending. But that just isn’t the world we live in.
WHAT I HATED
I hate the way that Murphy went about portraying what is wrong with Hollywood. To me he passed off the dark side of the entertainment industry a little too easily. Where people take advantage of their positions of power, or having to sell yourself to get anywhere.
One example of this is with Rock. He signed with Henry Wilson as his agent. Henry required Rock to perform sexual acts to even sign him to a contract. Rock was forced to do despicable things. He was talked down to and belittled. At the end of the last episode Henry had an awakening and asked Rock for forgiveness.
Rock proceeds to tell him that he doesn’t think he could ever forgive him, understandably. Henry then goes on to get his picture green lit about two gay men falling in love with Rock as his leading actor. Just like that, everyone gets a happy ending.
What wasn’t portrayed was the effects that these acts have on people. How it has destroyed their lives. I felt like a lot of these things were just glossed over, or not really explored fully. If there were attempts, they were meager at best.
I’m not going to pretend that I know what survivors feel like. However, with the #metoo movement and its HUGE impact on Hollywood in the last couple of years, it seemed like a huge disservice. Murphy could have done better. He should have done better.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?
I have mixed feelings about Hollywood. I think it has potential and there are good storylines. I loved that they showed representation in an era where it was unheard of. They cast an African American actress in the lead role that was written for a white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. During the Jim Crow era, they stood firm for what they believed in.
They didn’t take the hate, criticism or attempts at sabotage to derail their dreams. That was the inspiring part that I loved. That is what should inspire people to follow their dreams.
Overall, if you can stomach the darker themes of Hollywood. I suggest an attempt at watching it. There are things that I don’t agree with and that make me rage. But the overall theme, that everyone deserves a happy ending, is one worth watching.
Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter here!
Hollywood is now streaming on Netflix.