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Hollywood Review 2020 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Creators: Ian Brennan, Ryan Murphy
Stars: David Corenswet, Darren Criss, Laura Harrier
suppose you could argue that it is entirely proper for a show called Hollywood, about the lure of the impossibly glamorous dream factory in the 1940s, to promise so much in its opening episodes and ultimately deliver so little. But this is a Ryan Murphy show – the second to emerge from his five-year, $300m, free-rein deal with Netflix – and hopes were high that the golden boy of television could turn his attention to the golden gge of film and create a 24-carat wonder.
He has, after all, done just that with far less promising material. The People v OJ Simpson, part of the American Crime Story anthology series, took the infamous murder trial and turned it into a hybrid of soap, biopic and compelling commentary on race relations in the US, access to justice, media distortions and public complicity. The Assassination of Gianni Versace did virtually the same, but in the fashion world.
Hollywood dresses the stage enticingly. We are quickly introduced to all our major players. There’s David Corenswet (River Barkley in Murphy’s first Netflix creation, The Politician) as aspiring actor Jack Castello. He works at a petrol station run, as one was in real life by Scotty Bowers, as a front for sex work. Jack recruits Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope), a gay, black aspiring writer to help out with the “guy stuff” he’s not keen on, and Archie soon finds himself developing a relationship with one of his tricks – Roy Fitzgerald. Roy gets an agent, who demands sexual favours as well as 10%, has his name changed to Rock Hudson and finds himself on the path to stardom at a price he can barely begin to reckon.
Patti LuPone, as former silent movie star Avis Amberg, is one of Jack’s keenest customers and the wife of a studio head. Jack is soon under contract. Meanwhile, wannabe director Stanley Ainsworth (Darren Criss, another member of the Murphy rep company, last seen knocking it out of the park as Versace’s murderer Andrew Cunanan) is trying to get a film made starring Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec) – who has always presented a problem for the industry because of her race and is now having the temerity to age, too – in tribute to his own half-Asian heritage, but he needs a hit first. He picks up Archie’s script about Peg Entwistle, an actor who killed herself, and plans to cast his black girlfriend – currently suffering the standard humiliations of a starlet in Hollywood – as the lead.
We head into a counterfactual history, and the show falls apart. This should be the perfect set-up for a scabrous look at prejudice, corruption, the trading of sexual currency, coercion, the well-oiled machinations that underlie an industry and how it all shapes history – all through a #MeToo lens. But it becomes a mere wish-fulfilment fantasy that, whether it intends to or not, suggests that if a few people had just been that bit braver, then movies – and therefore the world! – would be a glorious, egalitarian Eden. It is a show that is smug and obtuse enough to believe la la land’s self-regarding idea that celluloid art directly shapes our lives.
Maybe this is what happens when you’re given $300m and a free rein. Maybe self-congratulation cannot help but seep in. But it’s a crushing disappointment nevertheless. Not ready for its closeup, Mr DeMille.