Hollywood is the newest project from TV giants Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Pose) and Ian Brennan (Glee, Scream Queens), which illustrates an insight into the post-WW2 ‘golden age’ of Hollywood filmmaking, as it could have been. It follows the story of a diverse group of Hollywood hopefuls, as they try to break into the film industry and progressively propel it forward.
The show boasts an incredible ensemble, including Jim Parsons, Darren Criss and Patti LuPone, among many others. The acting strikes a satisfying balance between comedy and drama that the writing calls for, and many performances are really quite moving. While the show focuses on shaking up the 1950s film industry, it also takes the audience into the stories of the characters doing so, allowing for some personal, touching, and heart-breaking moments.
For those who are fascinated by the film industry and its challenges and successes, Hollywood provides a really fun perspective. The retro production design and transatlantic accents are dazzling and charming, and the pacing is consistent with that of contemporary television, big scene after big scene, favouring a binge-ability.
The show also faces up to what people would do to ‘make it’ in Hollywood, and how dangerous and cruel the dizzying heights of the industry can be, while also exposing wider issues of racism, homophobia and sexism, and sexual exploitation. Hollywood does not shy away from the abusive nature of the industry, in a way that it perhaps could not have been done 5 years ago before movements such as #MeToo or Times Up.
However, while these issues are dealt with elegance, one problem remains. It seems almost too easy for the characters to change the industry, yes there are brief scenes of pushbacks against their work, but the threat from those pushing back does not seem real or frightening enough. While the show itself is aware of its massive reimagination of the industry, is does seem too good to be true, and it is.
The film industry that Hollywood shows is not one that existed in the 1950’s, and barely exists today. And that can leave a sour taste in the viewers mouth – this is not the story of the real Hollywood. This is a fantastical dream of how Hollywood should have developed or grown. It could be argued that this somewhat belittles the real life efforts of minorities in the industry, and the abuse they suffered. However, perhaps this was done on purpose, to provide a more hopeful, positive story than reality. As David Corenswet’s character Jack says, “A Hollywood dream, that’s everybody’s dream” – and the show is just that – a dream.
Image Credit: TheMovieDB