"Hollywood" is a True Fantasy

Earlier this month, Netflix released another Ryan Murphy production. The show, Hollywood, proves that the writer-director definitely has a knack for reeling in viewers with his whimsical aesthetic. His aesthetic is known to be mischievous and viewers have seen it in his previous shows like Glee, Pose, and The Politician. It shines through once more in the overnight sensation mini-series Hollywood.  

The show takes place in post-WWII California and, like various critics have pointed out, such as The New York Times, the show presents an alternate universe that takes on progressive “What ifs?” in Hollywood’s Golden Age. Some of these what if’s are: What if we grant minority actors like Anna May Wong happy outcomes in this parallel story? What if a black writer getting his pitched screenplay produced? What if open gay couples could safely walk down the streets? What if white people in power actually sacrificed their careers to grant underrepresented communities the roles they deserve?



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The casting directors brought in some familiar faces from previous Murphy productions, such as Glee’s Darren Criss and The Politician’s Dave Corenswet. We also see Jim Parsons from the Big Bang Theory, actress and model Laura Harrier, and Holland Taylor from the cult classic Legally Blonde. 

The show starts off with Jack Castello (Daven Corenswet), a dashing WWII veteran attempting to make ends meet for his pregnant wife while also trying to pursue his dream of being a star. He later falls in the hands of a prostitution business that poses as a gas station, promising it’s clientele a trip to “Dreamland”. His first client is, fortunately, Avis, the wife of the owner of Ace Studios. Later on, comes in the young screenwriter Archie (Jeremy Pope); unlike the other characters, Archie must compete in Hollywood despite his racial identity and closeted sexuality if he wants to fulfill his dream of being a writer. Roy Fitzgerald, on the other hand, is a well-built farm boy trying to fit into cookie-cutter Hollywood tropes but finds himself testing his morality constantly. 

In another episode, half-Filipino director Raymond (Criss) wants to produce one of his own screenplays but, first, he must fish through a pile of screenplays and produce one of the first. The power of fate leads him to select  Archie’s “Peg” as the chosen production. 

His lovely actress girlfriend, Camille Washington (Laura Harrier), faces her own hurdles in the industry; despite her talents and efforts, she’s routinely cast into minor, race-specific roles. Meanwhile, her co-leading actress Claire (Samara Weaving) is secretly the sole heir Ace Studios seeking to prove she is enough for the big screen on her own merits. 

The camera follows these aspiring actors, the writer and the director around the nooks and crannies of 1947 Los Angeles--while feeding viewers a go-getter attitude with the main characters, the plot attempts to reel in power-hungry obstacles that test the character’s morals and dignity. 

As uplifting fiction goes, they somehow miraculously make it all work out in the end after launching one Hollywood film in the 1950’s USA and take home all the Oscars. Emotive scenes appeal to the viewer, make them sympathize, and experience a sense of fulfillment by the close credits. 



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In the beginning, one of the main characters states the following: “Movies have the power to change lives.” Of course, they do, like all historic-artistic productions, artists seek to produce a catharsis for their audience. Artists hope that their audience will feel a sudden change or rebirth. Although, does that grant one movie with a diverse cast and crew the ability to have more power over misogyny, racism, and homophobia than a country’s systematic government?

Murphy’s goal with Hollywood is left uncertain; if it seeks to cause a discussion, then yes, it’s got people talking, from both good and bad critiques. 

Like all things Hollywood, the show itself is sleek, attractive, and blindingly addictive to the superficial eye. You will eat up the naïve, self-satisfying tone, and enjoy it, as did I. Without a doubt Hollywood caters a land with enough drama to keep the viewers hooked while still signing off with a feel-good ending. Unfortunately, that’s all it is: a fantasy.