In this colourful historical-revisionist drama set during Hollywood’s Golden Age, several aspiring filmmakers (actors, actresses, a writer and director) largely from a variety minority groups and backgrounds set out to fulfil their dream of “making it big” in the glittering City of Stars.Their controversial project – which they struggle to get green-lit, financed, produced and released over the seven episodes – threatens to bankrupt the fictional ACE Pictures studios and destroy each of their professional reputations. Plot-wise, it pretty much goes exactly how you would expect, so no big surprises! But that’s not to say it isn’t a fun ride.
Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, Hollywood is rather similar to their hit series Glee (2009-2015), minus the spontaneous musical numbers… The tone is light despite the themes of social injustice which are heavy throughout, and the glossy style is extremely pleasing to look at. It’s obviously deliberately cheesy and doesn’t take itself too seriously – personally I would have classified it as a “comedy drama” but IMDB and Wikipedia seem to disagree!
I did find myself glued to each episode, but probably because it’s such an easy watch and some of the actors are *ahem* quite nice to look at (somebody please tell me where David Corenswet came from, and where has he been hiding all this time?) As I said to the rest of the CineChat team: It’s a good one for the gays!
It was fun to discover the various ways that real Hollywood stars were woven into the story – for example, realising that one main character turns out to be Rock Hudson, or that he will attend a dinner party with the likes of Vivien Leigh and Noel Coward. Hattie McDaniel also makes a surprise appearance! In ways, it’s not a million miles away from the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! (2016) and Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), except much less subtle!
It’s a bit naff, but it’s a fun celebration of diversity (again, just like Glee), and a unique “What If” story that both assimilates and challenges Hollywood’s less-than-squeaky clean past. It’s something a bit different I suppose!