Ryan Murphy is taking us back to the golden age of Hollywood through the magic of Netflix – and I’m all here for it.
“In post World-War II Hollywood, an ambitious group of aspiring actors and filmmakers will do almost anything to make their showbiz dreams come true” reads the caption for the new Netflix series; Hollywood. It’s a project close to Murphy’s heart, as he explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “I grew up watching old movies all the time, and there were three people that I was always very upset about, and interested in, which was Anna May Wong and Hattie McDaniel and Rock Hudson […] [They were] this link to what I felt at the time was happening in my own life, which was ‘Oh, I’m never going to be allowed to be who I could really be or show what I could really do because of Prejudice”.
If the premise and Murphy isn’t enough to convince you, maybe the cast will. Queen Latifah as Hattie McDaniel, Jake Picking (Blockers, 2018) as Rock Hudson, Michelle Krusiec (Knife Fight, 2012) as Anna May Wong and Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory fame as Henry Wilson. Whilst these were all real-life figures from Hollywood, the show will also incorporated fabricated events, somewhat blurring the lines between fact and fiction. And perhaps, rightly so.
By including both real and fictional events/people, Murphy is allowing more freedom to explore this ‘new’ Hollywood, and starting to rewrite the story himself
To put it bluntly: 1940/50s Hollywood could be homophobic, sexist and racist. Murphy seeks to dismantle these power-structures somewhat in his storytelling – questioning what the landscape might’ve looked like if those attitudes were broken down. The tag line of posters even ask: “What if you could rewrite the story?”. By including both real and fictional events/people, Murphy is allowing more freedom to explore this ‘new’ Hollywood, and starting to rewrite the story himself. “What if a band of outsiders were given a chance to tell their own story? What if the person with greenlight power was a woman? The screenwriter a black man? What if the heroine was a woman of color? The matinee idol openly gay? And what if they were all invited into the room where the decisions are made, entering fully and unapologetically themselves to leave victorious and vaunted, their place in history cemented?” asks Janet Mock (executive producer/writer/director) in a statement released earlier this month. What if, indeed.
At it’s core, it’s about “how absolutely everything has changed and nothing has changed” (The Hollywood Reporter) – and in an era of #MeToo, TimesUp and Harvey Weinstein finally facing the consequences of his actions, Hollywood might just become one of the most prevalent shows on Netflix… And I can’t wait.
Hollywood is available to stream on Netflix from May 1st.
Last modified: 10th April 2020