13th May2020

‘Hollywood’ Review (Netflix Original)

by Rhys Payne

I took me a while to truly get into the new Netflix original series Hollywood due to the shows pacing and set-up (which I’ll talk about more later) but once I understood the stylistic choices, and once the main themes of the show were discussed, I quickly become totally invested into this series! don’t think there has been a show that has explored such vital ideas and themes in such a gripping way on Netflix for a long, long time.

Hollywood is a show all about a group of people chasing their dreams in the world of theatre, as the audience track the making of a movie based on the story of Peg Entwistle – who supposedly jumped off the Hollywood sign. This harks back to the heart of the golden age of cinema in Hollywood which explains why the pacing of the show is really slow. The show builds very slowly and then there is a sudden spike of drama and then calms down again. At first this structure was difficult to get through, and watch, but after careful consideration I think this is a clever inclusion that represented the show itself.

Continuing with the feel of the show, Hollywood is crammed full with famous stars which really appeals to any musical theatre fans out there, including Patty LuPone, Darren Crisp and Queen Latifa. These stars managed to use their stardom in a way that made sense to the show itself which is fantastic. One of the stand-out performers in this show was Jim Parsons – who before this I only knew from The Big Bang Theory were he plays a scientist. It was great to see Parsons in a ‘normal’ type of role instead of a hyper genius but what was even better was to see him in a dark role. He took advantage of every single moment on the screen to really portray this hyper-sexualised role. I’m excited to see if Parsons will chase these more serious and dramatic roles, as I think he really excelled in this one.

Hollywood starts following an aspiring film creator and actor but develops into a deep and serious series that explores the darker, hidden side of the golden age of cinema; including scenes depicting casting agents taking advantage of aspiring actors and the problem of alcoholism in Hollywood. One of the most important themes in this show is the idea of race, documenting the backlash of the audience when a dark-skinned character takes the leading role in the show. The show starts by discussing supposed “white roles” and how there have been very few leading Asian characters. The rebelling against this racist way of thinking leads to a heart-wrenching scene in which one character talks about the importance of cinema – how cinema should show everyone how the world could be if they think differently, rather than representing the repression that currently exists which was extremely powerful. The idea of racism is still a key theme today, so to have it explored in such a powerful way in this show was incredible. Hollywood also shows the progression of a gay relationships in the same manner that a heterosexual relationship is portrayed, which is a minor detail which can hopefully benefit any LGBT+ viewers. All this, alongside the strong language and scenes of a sexual nature, means that Hollywood is meant for a very mature audience who would understand these key themes.

Overall Hollywood is one of the most important pieces of television made in recent years portrayed by a star-studded cast; and part of me hopes this will be the only series on this show (which creator Ryan Murphy said is the case) otherwise the overall impact may be lost!

***** 5/5

Hollywood is available on Netflix now.

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