Format: Web Series
Movie Rated: 18+ (R)
Digital Premiere Date: 1 May 2020
What is the story about?
Hollywood post World War II was a racist, sexist, elitist place to be. The US Hollywood which you see now gives us all the hope that everyone can live the American dream, which is, even if you are an underdog in any part of the country. But there was a time when it catered to the ideas of the Ku Klux Klan and out of fear, would never cast a black woman as the lead actress, or credit a black guy for a script. But the problems don’t just end there.
There’s a different kind of nepotism that plays a role here, and being the daughter of the head of the studio won’t necessarily be an added advantage. Unlike the Bollywood Studio System, being the daughter of a studio owner might become baggage. Nepotism takes a different turn, men who work at the gas station and take you to the ‘dreamland’ actually have fair chances of pleasing a casting director, wife of a producer, someone who has a consanguine connection with the studio.
The Netflix mini-series begins with Jack Castello, a fledgeling actor with dashing good looks ready to make it big in the movie business. After meeting a local gas-station owner cum pimp he realises that his external profession of working as the gas station is merely a disguise. He becomes an escort for the high, and mighty, sexually unsatisfied women of Hollywood. One of Jack’s loyal client manages to make him enter the studio as a cast. He dresses like a cop and gets another man in the team of escorts and that’s where our love story and these men’s career story begins.
There’s hidden gay love in Hollywood where men swim naked in the swimming pool and show their skills to the high and mighty later on. There’s also open gay declaration between a screenwriter and an aspiring actor. There’s a liberal-leaning and in the right dosage. The blacks are given preference over the whites, not out of a show of political correctness, but purely on the basis of talents. An ignored Asian star finally gets her due and homophobia is slashed. There’s the inclusion of all gender, race, caste, and in the right dosage without an entire show of attempting too hard to be a politically correct story of a bunch of apologist liberals.
This Netflix series exuberated Murphy’s passion for films and the realm of cinema as a whole. What results in this show is Murphy’s version of Hollywood where there are perverts ready to take advantage of fledgeling actors, philistines, holding powerful occupations in creative departments, and excessive elitism, which is the flavoured sensation of Hollywood. An attempt to create a division between the rich and the poor, the whites and the blacks, the poor whites and the poor blacks, the rich whites and the rich blacks.
Music and other departments
The credit sequence does not give away the plot point of the series but it keeps us connected to what the narration is all about. The limited series is not a comedy and the background score plays a vital role in keeping us attached to the emotions of the sequence.
One of the reasons why we love classic Hollywood is no matter how much we hated the white telephone culture in the film industry, we always wanted to know how pretentious that industry could be, only to love the Italian films more. This is a Hollywood post the second World War, there had been a dearth of content, apart from the works of Alfred Hitchcock, who makes his presence felt, not in the form of a narrative, but through the disguise of an actor. You fail to recognise who was addressed as Mr Hitchcock, but that is the beauty of being the master of suspense.
Hollywood 2020 is vastly different from Hollywood post World War II. It is vital to remember that Hollywood in the present times, Hollywood has gone through various phases where a Korean film managed to win an Oscar in the main categories, the Academy Award had been heavily bashed for choosing members from the white community and not having enough female members in the team (#OscarSoWhite), it has also been the platform where artistes have shown their solidarity with the MeToo movement.
Hence, when you try to show the dark times of Hollywood, it is necessary to show the specific year. The attires do not count, especially in a series that is clearly based on the sets of a studio, hence attires often make us believe that they are purposely worn in the present time to portray another time.
Did I enjoy it?
Absolutely. It takes immense courage to sit in the system, use its methods and construct a narrative that’s all about the flaws in the industry, where you might have to hunt for work again. Controversies can either build you or destroy you. There is always a risk of facing the latter part of the situation.
Do I recommend it?
Absolutely. Ryan Murphy has waded into these waters previously and his sly comments about the industry will always remain a fascinating watch. The Netflix series longed for things which could have been different, longed for powerful people with a spine. But with variety in all forms, the film industry makes us believe that we are just a few people hoping to be braver, better, than what we are today, till we give in to the thirst for stardom and money.