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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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
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 trailer hints at a lot of things. Check it out.
Have you watched this limited series on Netflix? What was your opinion of it?