Ryan Murphy brings together a cast of fresh faces and actors he has previously worked with to paint a City of Dreams that Hollywood neither was nor is. The aspiring actors and filmmakers are willing to do anything to make their dreams come true.
But apart from having to ‘pimp’ themselves out for the established High and Mighty, there is not much else they face in the name of struggle. Murphy forgets the balance between ‘What Was’ and ‘What could’ve Been,’ fully immersing the show in a politically correct, inclusive, and accepting version of Hollywood.
1. Quick Review
This alternate history drama miniseries tries to present a unique insight into Hollywood post World War II. The series presents a world populated by only good souls, where even the most horrible antagonists have redeeming qualities.
Although there are moments of brilliance and drama in the show, there aren’t any real obstacles faced by the central characters. Theway in which the release of a movie changes the way the entire industry works and the mind-sets of the people, appears more fantastical than emotional.
2. Is It Worth Watching?
It is hard to believe that Hollywood comes from the same Ryan Murphy, who created American Crime Story. The People Vs. O.J. Simpson managed to comment on racial inequality and how media involvement can manipulate public opinion while being an entertaining true-crime trial.
Hollywood seeks to examine what the film industry would be like if the age-old power dynamics and systems of privilege and discrimination didn’t exist.
Hollywood revolves around an ensemble cast of aspiring actors and filmmakers looking for their big break to make it in the movies. There is Jack Castello, a charismatic war veteran with a hastily written backstory and Rock Hudson, a gay man both working at a petrol pump, which doubles as a prostitution ring. The pump is run by Ernie West, who pimps his workers out for Hollywood hotshots, and they go along with it in the hope of catching a big break.
The break does come when Jack gets picked up by Ace Productions for their new project. Rock’s boyfriend Archie, a closeted black homosexual man, manages to sell his screenplay to the same studio.
With a Filipino director, a black actor, and an Asian actress, the group sets out to create the most inclusive and racially diverse movie that Hollywood has ever seen, which will change the way the industry works.
II. Cast & Performances
There are multiple story arcs and overlapping plotlines involving a bunch of characters. David Corenswet plays Jack Costello, a man who has charisma and style but not much backstory. His pregnant wife, who works as a waitress, serves as a token character and isn’t given much time and attention.
Darren Criss as the Filipino director Raymond and Laura Harrier as the black actress Camillie plays the couple which faces discrimination from all sides and is unable to advance in their careers because of it.
Jim Parsons is the closest thing to an antagonist as a Hollywood agent mercilessly exploiting his clients. But even he is given a redeeming backstory to justify his hatred and homophobia. Ernie (Dylan McDermott) is treated as somewhat of a hero while he runs his prostitution ring.
III. Detailed Review
Like other Ryan Murphy shows, Hollywood is fun to watch, but it gets hard to root for characters that face no real danger and obstacles. When customers pull up to Ernie’s pump, they use the phrase “I want to go to Dreamland” as a code to imply that they are looking for sexual services.
This idea of a Dreamland, which alters everyone’s understanding of America and the seedy underbelly of Hollywood, is what runs at the center of the show.
The ridiculous thing about Hollywood is the ease with which it brings about social reform. To tackle inclusivity and promote racial diversity in films, the writers just make a film that is the most diverse and inclusive film of all time.
What a brilliant idea right? Then the film miraculously wins multiple awards and opens everyone’s eyes to what was wrong in the industry and their behavior.
Creator Ryan Murphy will argue that the point of the alternate reality genre was to present the setting in a different light. But like People VS O.J., he forgets to balance out the differences or even give serious thought to the factors preventing the creation of his utopia.
This show was the perfect opportunity to look at the trading of sexual favors, prejudices, and corruption, which made classic Hollywood. Instead, it tries to be a smiley Band-Aid hoping to fix everything wrong with the world.
3. Final Thoughts
The film industry is brutal while being glamorous and Hollywood also manages to suck you in, the same way the industry does. More often than not, it leaves you feeling disappointed.
The show thinks that what people see on-screen directly impacts their lives and makes light of the real discrimination that both people of color and women faced in 40s America.
The picture-perfect ending is especially hard to swallow in June 2020 when America is racked by protests and demonstrations against systematic police brutality against Black Americans.