By: Emily Bracher
Many know Ryan Murphy for his shows like Glee, American Horror Story, the Politician, and many more. On May 1st, Netflix released his latest production, Hollywood, which follows a fictional story of many actors in 40s Hollywood. Not long after being released, it has made its way to the top 10 most watched shows on Netflix.
The show takes you back into the post-war times in Hollywood, but gives it a twist. It gives a picture of what the era would have been like if the filmmaking industry was more inclusive, to other races, genders, and sexualities. It goes in depth of the stories of each character and how they fought against discrimination and eventually made a movie that would have never been made at that time.
It circles around the production of a movie based on the true story of Peg Entwistle, a young actress who climbed the H of the Hollywood sign and jumped to her death. Later becoming Meg, it shows how actors/actresses, writers, and directors fought for their spot in the production of a film that would have been so controversial at the time, starring a colored actress.
When watching this show, I instantly fell in love with the way the actors portrayed the times and the area they were in, it was perfectly put together. It not only shows the evil in the people, but it shows the good in those who fought for what is right. Within the first episode, I noticed that many of the characters had the names of actors and others in the industry at that time. Murphy was using this show to give them a better ending that they deserved. “I thought, what if those people won?” Murphy explained to Vanity Fair Magazine.
This alternate story line gave Rock Hudson, one of the most famous actors of his time, a life where he was able to come out to the world as gay. Unlike his real life, where he sayed closeted until his AIDS diagnosis in 1985, Rock comes out by walking the red-carpet with his boyfriend, Archie Coleman. Even though Archie’s character isn’t based off of a real person, he represents what it would have been like if an African-American screenwriter were given the opportunity to produce his work.
Another familiar name was Anna May Wong, a Chinese-American actress who was known for her roles in both silent and sound films. Usually, she was cast as an exoticized character, or put in the background. When she went for the role of O-Lan in the production of Good Earth, a white man was given the part for who would have been considered her other half. Interracial representation was banned so she lost the part to a white actress, Luise Rainer. She was offered a smaller part as a dancer, when the whole main cast was white portraying Chinese characters. Luise Rainer later won an Oscar for the part. Hollwood includes that story Wong losing the part but gives her the ending she deserves. In the show, she is cast for the movie Meg, where she later wins an Oscar for it.
Other stars of the time like Hattie McDaniels, famous for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind, became a mentor for Camille Washington, who scores the main role in Meg. She tells Camille not to deal with racism and refuse to be segregated during the Academy Awards. Or people like Scotty Bowers, who’s character actually goes by the name Ernie West. Bowers was known for his prostitution ring gas station, where many of the main characters meet, connecting all of the dots of the story. He didn’t care who you were or what you believed in, he had something in store for everyone, many supposed clients being movie stars.
While watching the show, many will fall in love with both the fictional and real characters. They will get to see how hard it was during that time for those who were different, but will still get the satisfaction of a happy ending. It gives a positive message to continue being yourself and not to hide the real you, no matter what others think. Originally, Murphy planned on Hollywood only being a limited series, but the world has been begging for more. At the moment, there is no definite plan for a second season. Responding to a fan though instagram, Murphy exclaimed, “So who knows? I sure do love this cast though.”