After leaving FX, Ryan Murphy landed a $300 million contract with Netflix. He kicked off his run with comedy-drama series The Politician. What is notable about that is how he took a usually sensitive subject matter, and made it relatable. We’ll be seeing more of his genius when the streaming giant rolls out Hollywood this month.

Netflix series: Hollywood
Michelle Krusiec (as Anna May Wong) and Laura Harrier (as Camille Washington)

As an openly gay filmmaker, Murphy considers himself lucky to be accepted by the American film industry. Support was unfortunately absent for stars like Rock Hudson, Anna May Wong, and Hattie McDaniel. They grappled with sexual, gender or racial discrimination throughout their careers. This sets the premise for the series. What if actors were not judged for their colour or sexual orientations, but solely for their talents? How different would their careers, achievements and lives be? In an alternate reality, Murphy gives his characters – fictional and non-fictional – what they need most: someone who would stand up and fight for them.

Netflix series: Hollywood
Joe Mantello (Dick Samuels) and Holland Taylor (Ellen Kincaid)
Spot-on casting

Viewers will find familiar faces in the cast. This is because Murphy likes to stick with people he’s worked with before. These include Darren Criss from Glee and American Horror Story, Dylan McDermott from AHS and The Politician, David Corenswet from The Politician, Patti LuPone from AHS and Pose. You’ll probably spot a camaraderie between them. This matters because their real-life chemistry lets them do a much better job in acting.

While Jim Parsons may seem like the standout performer with his eccentricity as Hollywood talent agent Henry Willson, the others don’t fall shortThe scene in which veteran actress Holland Taylor as film executive Ellen Kincaid says, “Oh, you’re coloured… I love it!” is certainly one to remember.

Netflix series: Hollywood
Jeremy Pope (Archie Coleman) and Darren Criss (Raymond Ainsley)
insights into Hollywood

For Hollywood, Murphy seems to be banking on a formula he used for AHS and Pose. That is, injecting elements of truth throughout the narrative. Putting all sexual transactions concealed within the showbiz aside, Murphy has revealed a number of factoids. Some of these are Peg Entwistle’s suicide; Gone With The Wind actress Vivien Leigh’s bipolar disorder; Anna May Wong’s rigged Hollywood career, and Rock Hudson’s sexual orientation.

You’ll agree that all these open our eyes to the truth behind the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood. Honestly, it does so even more than Quentin Tarantino’s comparably themed drama-comedy film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which of course has its own merits.

The story we enjoy most is that about Hudson and Willson. As Hudson’s agent, Willson didn’t hide Hudson’s homosexuality from the public as he did in real-life. Neither was Willson himself under any public and media scrutiny for his own sexual orientation—no exposés, no blackmails.

And so by tweaking pivotal historical events, Murphy has reinvented the Golden Age of Hollywood where no individual is despised or marginalised for their personal choices.

All images: Netflix Singapore
written by.
Lester Tan
Lester is into films, food and basically anything culture related under the sun.

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