Cutting my teeth on classic film is a memory I shall forever treasure sharing with my mother. Being a little girl doing the depression, movies, their stars and their lifestyles provided an escape from the grim realities of post-war life. With every peek into that bigger-than-life depiction of the rich and famous hundreds of hopefuls would flock to Hollywood with dreams and illusions of becoming stars. Some watch their dreams realized and other dreams are deferred like a raisin in the sun.
From Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, HOLLYWOOD follows a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II Hollywood as they try to make it in Tinseltown — no matter the cost. Each character’s unique glimpse behind Hollywood’s Golden Age, spotlights the unfair systems and bias across race, gender and sexuality that currently prevail. Thought provoking and incisive, HOLLYWOOD exposes and examines decades-old power struggles, and what the entertainment landscape might look like if it had been blown apart. (Charlie) Jeremy Pope, Camille Washington (Laura Harrier), David Corenswet (Jack), Darren Criss (Raymond), Samara Weaving (Claire Wood), Jim Parsons (Henry Wilson), Dylan McDermott (Ernie), Holland Taylor (Ellen Kincaid), Patti LuPone (Avis), Jake Picking (Rock Hudson), Joe Mantello (Dick) take us on a fantastical ride through classic Hollywood each with a dream and hunger pain every larger than the one before.
The cast is stellar and imagine a world where Rock Hudson could be openly gay and walk down a red carpet premiere with his significant other. A world where you can take a Hollywood folklore, turn it on its ear and make the heroine Black. A world where ageism and sexism weren’t issues. A world where a woman is running a major film studio — all in 1940’s America. The same America that wouldn’t allow Hattie McDaniel to sit in the same room with her peers before, during or after she became the 1st African-American woman to take home the Academy Award. An America that now allows ALL of those things.
As a woman of color who navigates through numerous lanes in the entertainment industry, this was refreshing and heartbreaking all at once. Heartbreaking that in 2020, we still have only seen one out and proud man in Emmy Award history to win Best Actor in a Series (Billy Porter). We still have only seen one woman win an Academy Award for Best Actress (Halle Berry). Even still on most television shows and films, black female characters, gay characters or other people of color are still relegated to delivering a sassy one-liner. Yes, there are exceptions like Insecure, Black-ish, Pose and a handful of others. But, with over 700 channels to surf, the number of shows that are ethnically inclusive are literally a drop in the bucket. I’m positive life will imitate art when Jim Parsons, Patti Lupone, Dylan McDermott and Jeremy Pope are rewarded for their work. It goes without saying that Ryan Murphy is on a roll and thank goodness he exists. He places a glaring spotlight on Hollywood for the better on all cylinders.
Will this series divide opinions. Absolutely. There are invariably people on the sidelines who always have something to say whether it be good, bad or indifferent. Having said that, see for yourself and hit me with your thoughts as Netflix begins streaming Hollywood on May 1st!