“Hollywood” is an American drama web television miniseries starring an ensemble of David Corenswet, Darren Criss, Laura Harrier, Joe Mantello, Dylan McDermott, Jake Picking, Jeremy Pope, Holland Taylor, Samara Weaving, Jim Parsons, and Patti LuPone. Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the series follows a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II Hollywood (1947–1948) as they try to make it in the film industry—no matter what the cost. Each character offers a unique glimpse behind the gilded curtain of Hollywood’s Golden Age, noting entrenched power, challenges to that power, and biases of many kinds that continue to this day.
“Hollywood” might get criticized or praised but it is one of those series that each individual has to make their own judgement. I’m going to give you mine, so hopefully you’ll be able to decide if you want to give it a chance or not. For me, it is a win, a critical success of vision, characterization, and explorations of bias, both racial and sexuality. For it’s willingness to challenge the status quo, it is certainly worth taking a risk on watching it.
In the series, a black filmmaker writes a film and sends it to a studio, hoping that it will be picked up. Along the way, we meet other characters, actors who want to make it big but are hampered by family, money, or simply by the expectations of Hollywood society itself. We also meet wives without power and agents who take advantage. We meet producers restricted by the studio owner and people just making a living. We meet all of them while we follow each character as they become part of making a groundbreaking film that unfortunately never happened in the real world but we all wish had. If it had, we might not still be fighting the same battles for racial, female, and sexual inequality. Personally, I find Ryan Murphy’s vision of a re-visualized Hollywood genius and his characters strong and dynamic.
While I cannot stress enough the talent of this cast, it is difficult to pinpoint just one individual, mostly because they are an ensemble and all so excellent, both in their chemistry with each other, and their connection to their roles. Each one brings a different truth and each one is critical to the success of the series. I will say Jim Parsons is a delight, if mostly for the change from his role on Big Bang Theory. Don’t expect Sheldon.
What I truly found original was the blending of reality with the fictionalized portrayal we are given in this film. Those portraying historical figures are cast perfectly and play their parts to perfection, giving us a much different vision of Hollywood, including its secrets and lies. But “Hollywood” has a far more hopeful tone. If you like the mixing of history and fiction, of themes of sexuality and racial bias, I suggest watching this. Warning note, there is nudity and sex but those add to the story, enhance it, not detract.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.