Review: Hollywood

The aspiring actors in Hollywood

Hollywood is about rewriting the story of Hollywood by going back 80 years and re-imagining everything. Set in the 1940s, the series creates a new history for Hollywood that includes people of color, out gay men, and women bosses.

I hated Hollywood and I loved it. I thought it was too long and too scattered. I thought it was beautiful and brilliant. I thought it was overblown and suffered from several inadequate actors. I thought the points it made about movies changing the world and the importance of representation in the movies were on the mark.

The first couple of episodes seemed disconnected from the rest. When the 5th episode ended I was ready for it to be over. Then I realized there were 2 more episodes. They turned out to be the best 2 episodes of the series.

The series was created by Ian Brennan and Ryan Murphy. Those names are why I stuck with it through the parts I hated to find parts I loved. I liked Glee. I liked The Politician. I like Pose. I trust this team and the actors, producers and writers around them.

Plot and Characters

The plot was about the dreamers who came to Hollywood to act, to write, to be someone, to make a difference. Fictional characters mixed with real characters made up the series.

Dylan McDermott and David Corenswet in Hollywood
Ya gotta take ’em to Dreamland, see?

Jack Castello (David Corenswet), a hopeful actor, and Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope), a hopeful writer, met working at a gas station. Ernie (Dylan McDermott) ran the gas station, which offered more than gas and oil.

Darren Criss and Jeremy Pope in Hollywood
The writer and director with a controversial idea. A revolutionary idea!

Raymond Ainsley (Darren Criss) was a hopeful director. He wanted to direct a movie written by Archie. Raymond’s girlfriend Camille (Laura Harrier) was an aspiring actor.

Archie’s boyfriend took the name Rock Hudson (Jake Picking). Rock Hudson was the name picked by the disgusting manager Henry Wilson (Jim Parsons).

Jim Parsons in Hollywood
A snake

There were some wonderful actors and some barely okay actors in this series, but Jim Parsons was brilliant. He was a predator who used his power to abuse, manipulate, and humiliate. This series may get awards for costume design or music or some such, but in terms of acting Jim Parsons’ performance was miles above everyone else’s. Yes to the Emmy.

Patti LuPone in Hollywood
She’s the boss now.

Besides actors and managers, there were also studio heads and execs in charge of making movies. Ace Amberg (Rob Reiner) ran a studio. When he got sick his wife Avis (Patti LuPone) took over. She green lit the controversial movie written by a black man and starring Camille, a black woman. Other studio execs included Dick (Joe Mantello) and Ellen (Holland Taylor).

Michelle Krusiec and Laura Harrier in Hollywood
Anna May Wong and Camille at the Oscars

The movie they were making also included a part for Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec). Raymond was convinced she’d been cheated out of an Oscar in The Good Earth and was determined that an Asian woman would be represented in his film.

The movie included a part for Ace Amberg’s daughter, who changed her name to Claire Wood (Samara Weaving). Jeanne Crandall (Mira Sorvino) was cast in the film. She’d been Ace’s lover. When Avis took over, she called Jeanne in, explained that she understood, and put her back in the movies.

Themes

Oh, heavens, let me count the thematic elements.

  • representation matters
  • the nation is hungry to see themselves represented on the screen
  • gay is not shameful
  • fight for your dreams
  • Hollywood is immoral, sexist, homophobic, racist, and ageist
  • love can happen when you least expect it
  • women make great movies
  • a hand up to those below you makes all the difference

Hollywood Overall

My overall reaction to the series was uneven and different in every episode. There were times when I had to push myself to stick with it. At other times I thought an episode or a moment was perfect. It ended 3 times before it actually ended.

I very much liked what they said about the importance of who and what we see on our screens. Getting to that message was a slog sometimes.

Women directors for 3 of the 7 episodes were Janet Mock and Jessica Yu.

Here’s a nice poster for your Pinterest board about TV and movies.

The poster for Hollywood

The trailer hints at a lot of things. Check it out.

Have you watched this limited series on Netflix? What was your opinion of it?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

9 thoughts on “Review: Hollywood”

  1. I was fascinated throughout by what I call the “generous wish fulfillment” offered by the story line of the “Peg” script and its production.

    Yes, the last two episodes were the best, and actually did make me consider how my own queer life would have been different if Hollywood itself had moved society more in the 50s.

    The best moment for me was when older actress (played by Mira Sorvino, whose potential career was diminished by Harvey Weinstein) is given her due by Patti LuPone and Holland Taylor. It feels as powerful as the “let’s all wear black” moment of Time’s Up.

    1. I definitely connected the character played by Jim Parsons with Weinstein, even though he targeted men. I thought the metaphor of the predator and the #TimesUp movement started by brave women like Mira Sorvino practically shouted from the screen in every one of his scenes.

      Like you, I also like the way women reached out to help each other – even when they had reason not too. And I love, love, love (always) the elder characters.

  2. I almost feel the same. Ryan Murphy has a signature look to be sure – but it took me till eps 3 to be able to distinguish between Jake Picking & David Corenswet. Then it picked up really well and I started loving it – until that final episode which is something Murphy does a lot – get way to predictable. He took something so so so important and interesting and pretended all was well and good. I liked Glee for a few seasons until it got predictable & bland. Loved the Politician – ALL of it. And maybe 2 season of AHS – I thought for sure this was gonna be something I would really enjoy from top to bottom. :/ it was middle of the road.

      1. AHS first season was good – pretty damn awful after that..can’t say I watched past 1/2 of 2nd season – just mostly heard & saw trailers that didn’t appeal to me in the slightest. Again, Glee was original & fun at the beginning..have you seen Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist yet.. now it’s really good. And adult Glee more or less – with a much better storyline. 🙂

        1. Yes to Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Find it wonderful. The last episode of the season was so touching. As for Glee, I know people got disgusted with it, but as long as they kept singing, I kept watching.

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