The much-anticipated Ryan Murphy creation for Netflix, Hollywood, is finally here but without so much of a bang.
Having received a lukewarm response from film buffs and critics, the mini-series about a reimagined post-1950s tinsel town was accused of being self-congratulatory at best.
The show was particularly accused of callous handling of the very themes it vowed to do justice to, like racism and LGBTQ exclusivity in Hollywood.
According to The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan,
“This (counterfactual show) should be the perfect set-up for a scabrous look at prejudice, corruption, the trading of sexual currency, coercion, the well-oiled machinations that underlie an industry and how it all shapes history – all through a #MeToo lens. But it becomes a mere wish-fulfillment fantasy that … suggests that if a few people had just been that bit braver, then movies – and therefore the world! – would be a glorious, egalitarian Eden.”
A star-studded show, nonetheless
However, the second most exciting part of the Hollywood serpart came through. It delivered on the promise of introducing us to numerous historical characters and even those based on historical characters, in its storytelling.
There’s David Corenswet (of The Politician fame) playing the role of an aspiring actor Jack Castello. Jack is also a part-time chocolate boy for a shady petrol bunk, the kind of which was actually run by one Scotty Bowers in real life.
Jack’s latest client is Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope), a gay, black aspiring writer. He is soon developing a relationship with one of his tricks -– Roy Fitzgerald. Roy gets an agent in exchange for coital favors and later has his name changed to Rock Hudson, the real-life star, who was also gay.
Patti LuPone, playing the former silent movie star Avis Amberg, is one of Jack’s keenest customers and the wife of a studio head. She helps him get on a contract soon.
Meanwhile, wannabe director Stanley Ainsworth (Darren Criss) is trying to cast Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec) as the lead in his film, in tribute to his own well-hidden half-Asian heritage.
Anna May Wong was also a real-life Hollywood actress who became the first Chinese American movie star to gained global recognition.
Watch the trailer here:
Real vs Reel Characters
Dylan McDermott as Ernie, the owner of the gas station that doubles as a secret gay escort service. Ernie is based on Scotty Bowers, a man who arranged encounters for Hollywood stars to hide their sexualities.
Harriet Harris is Eleanor Roosevelt, the former First Lady, and wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. They had an interest in fighting for human rights.
Queen Latifah, like Hattie McDaniel, a black actress who became the first person of color to win an Academy Award after her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.
Katie McGuinness as Vivien Leigh, the notable American actress who won Academy Award for her work as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.
Others in the cast
The cast also includes include, Holland Taylor as Ellen Kincaid playing one of the top studio executives who also trains aspiring actors on contract. Taylor is best known for her roles in Two and A Half Men, The Truman Show, and Legally Blonde.
There is Joe Mantello as Dick Samuels. Another top studio executive, Samuels, takes the brunt of the responsibilities while trying to keep a secret about his personal life.
Meanwhile, Maude Apatow plays the role of Jack’s pregnant wife, Henrietta Castello. Rob Reiner comes as Ace Amberg, the head of Ace Studios, who calls all of the shots in development. And Mira Sorvino plays one Jeanne Crandall, an aging actress who was almost a star.