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Upon finishing the finale to this show, one thing that sprung into my mind was a quote by YouTuber "Colossal is Crazy" in his commentary on FouseyTube's failed festival which claimed to "end racism" among other sweet, grandiose nothings. "This had BETTER. BE GOOD." While Hollywood has a lot of heart and craft put into it, it ends up patting itself on the back a bit too enthusiastically.
Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan's Hollywood, admittedly, makes no bones about what it sets out to do. It's a Tarantino-esque Alternate History exploration that takes a cushier, righter path from reality. Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, we follow a group of wide-eyed would-be-starlets of differing circumstances wishing to make the American Dream. The tone of the show brightly reflects the era it intends to portray: it's pretty, optimistic, warm and affirmative, with a slight postmodern touch. An uglier side to showbiz is lightly prodded at with all the sharpness of a stick of uncooked spaghetti, but it really isn't as boldly revisionist as it would have you believe.
The show centres around the production of a fictional film called Meg which stars a black female lead, is directed by a half-Filipino man, written by a gay black man (who's in a relationship with Rock Hudson), features an Asian actress in a supporting role and is produced by an elderly Jewish woman. So far so good, we of course hope our protags can gain some recognition in a straight white man's world. However, without spoiling too much, they go a bit further than that. While you'd think this would be an underdog story with a bittersweet edge and the cards stacked against our heroes, the opposite is true - there is very little struggle to be had. Everything is way too easy. Discrimination in America is successfully eradicated just because of this one fictitious film that completely overshadows the real directors, actors and actresses who are mostly reduced to background roles.
On the plus side, performances are great all round. Dylan McDermott is an instant crowdpleaser as the charismatic garage owner/pimp Ernie. Jim Parsons turns in a surprisingly good show as the slimy, small-minded caricature of real talent agent Henry Willson. Queen Latifah does dignified justice to Hattie McDaniel, but, despite Hattie's own past discrimination in her brief acting career, she is ironically pushed into a minor supporting role for a more successful, more beautiful fictional character. It's a trend with historical fiction to favour the fictional creations, but this one goes to a new extreme.
Hollywood is like a Lana Del Rey song with zero irony. There is a bold-faced dishonesty and self-congratulation to it that is barely concealed by the glitz and glamour. But, if nothing else, it's a fairly entertaining easy-watcher.
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