Netflix’s new seven episode series “Hollywood” tells the story of young actresses and actors fighting for careers in the golden age of Hollywood.
However, the golden age of Hollywood was never really golden. It was white-washed, homophobic and misogynistic. This show highlights and comments on that aspect of classic Hollywood, where minorities were overlooked and the queer community hid their true selves in order to have a chance at fame.
With actors such as Darren Criss, Laura Harrier, David Corenswet and Jim Parsons, the show has the same amount of star pull as any other produced by Ryan Murphy, probably best known for his involvement in shows like “Glee” and “American Horror Story”. Murphy has a specific flair for raw, focused productions that often mix comedy and drama. This show, while set in post-World War II, frames the story in the present while flashing back to the past.
“Hollywood” is all about the ambition of young actors, specifically minorities. It allows minorities to be given a say, a chance, a part in old Hollywood. The show illustrates opportunities in Hollywood and how minorities paved the way for future generations to be given the same chances.
In the series, Ace Studios casts a woman of color for a leading role in “The Good Earth.” This was not usually the case in older Hollywood movies, since many white actors played minorities in the golden age of Hollywood. This includes “The Good Earth,” since the show reveals that Anna May Wong was not given the leading role in real life. Instead, Luise Rainer acted in yellowface and received an Oscar in exchange.
The show also highlights the judgment of sexuality within golden age Hollywood, as Rock Hudson’s sexuality was often questioned throughout his career. The show goes into detail about the struggles of hiding sexuality in the 1940s in order to have a successful career. While William Haines was the first openly gay actor in the late 1920s, sexuality was often shamed by the rest of Hollywood and, as a result, hidden so gay actors could be cast in lead roles.
The show has many twists and turns throughout the season. With death, backstabbing and cheating scandals abound, the drama opens the door for future shows to produce the same amount of surprise. “Hollywood” is glamorously shot and emotionally driven, especially in the end, when many minorities, often so downtrodden in Hollywood, are awarded Oscars for their roles.
While the show fantasizes a lot about life in an alternate Hollywood, it never ignores the actual hardships faced by actors in reality, especially their hard fought successes. In the show, the first black actress given the Oscar for Best Actress happens in the 1940s although that did not happen until 2002. Similarly, a black screenwriter is given another Oscar way earlier than in actuality, with the first Best Screenplay award given to a black screenwriter in 2017.
Still, although just a fantasy, “Hollywood” should definitely gain recognition for allowing viewers to see what life would be like if the industry would have actually taken a chance on racial minorities and the queer community back in the 1940s.