Think old Hollywood glam, happy endings, hope and the American dream. Think about why you love movies in the first place, how they make you feel and what they symbolise. Imagine changing the world and rewriting history – but in an indulgent way, in a Ryan Murphy way.
The official synopsis:
“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 offers a unique glimpse behind the gilded curtain of Hollywood’s Golden Age, spotlighting the unfair systems and biases across race, gender and sexuality that continue to this day. Hollywood exposes and examines decades-old power dynamics, and what the entertainment landscape might look like if they had been dismantled.”
Why should you watch it?
I’ve been fascinated by the craft of moviemaking since I can remember; sold on the Hollywood dream, the flashing lights and escapist fantasies. I love the idea of old Hollywood and the way in which the industry evolved from silent films to ‘talkies’, from black and white to colour, and all the implications that each of these shifts involved.
In the era before blockbusters, audiences were treated to a myriad of different films in which the sole purpose of the film was to stir emotion. Millions of LA hopefuls streamed to the big studios daily hoping to be part of something bigger, to see themselves immortalised on the silver screen.
It was also a time where creative expression needed to mirror the status quo, and if you’ve ever seen anything by Ryan Murphy, you’d know that it is exactly what he wants to address. He places a magnifying glass on issues of race, class and sexual orientation by reimagining this era in Hollywood that we have come to idolise.
And yes, it is indulgent. That’s Murphy. He does not convey his message subtly – the issues that he wants to address are laid out plainly, obviously and cannot go by unnoticed. Much like his American Crime Story series, it does sacrifice narrative for big performances and big personalities, and like I mentioned in this case, big issues.
One of these personalities, who does give a performance of note, is Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons. His role as Henry Wilson, famed manager of movie star Rock Hudson, gives him the opportunity to really come into his own as an actor. Although the character is every bit as eccentric as Sheldon Cooper, he is such a tour de force effectively distancing himself from the sitcom fame, and definitively establishing himself as something more. The series is very loosely based on real events and real people and Henry Wilson is one of them.
I still remember watching my first Rock Hudson movie, Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows (remade by Todd Haynes as Far From Heaven in 2002 starring Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid). Both of these are stories of inequality and tension – racist and classist – and fits so perfectly within the Hollywood narrative. Rock Hudson, who never openly admitted to being queer, stars in this quintessential melodrama which is also definitely worth the watch if the series piques your interest.