Hollywood: Season 1 – Review

Hollywood is now streaming on Netflix.

By Ariba Bhuvad

Hollywood, Ryan Murphy’s second Netflix series, is indeed a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood. As someone who is enamored with history in general, this particular time period of Tinseltown is one that has always intrigued me. Hollywood in the 1940s ushered in some of the industry’s most memorable and critically acclaimed movies. Not to mention, the best of the best talent was a part of that time (Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, etc.).

And it’s this rich history and culture of Hollywood that is the heart and soul of Murphy’s Hollywood. As always, Murphy goes above and beyond to be inclusive even while telling the story of a time that was usually anything but. I won’t give anything away here as I want the surprises to unfold as you watch them, but if you’ve seen any of Murphy’s other shows, then you know exactly what to expect.

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HOLLYWOOD

Hollywood does not hold back when it comes to depicting the sexually charged atmosphere of Tinseltown. You’ll see how the industry used this atmosphere to its advantage with absolutely no consequences. Murphy tells this particular angle in a very intriguing way that will pull you into the story, and make you scoff at the absurdity that this was the environment in 1940s Hollywood. Some may argue that not much has changed since then, but that’s a topic for another day. But the rampant sexual nature of this world isn’t the only thing Murphy takes a magnifying glass to. Through the course of the series, you’ll see how this world was full of its biases–sexual, racial, gender. There weren’t many putting their foot down and giving a voice to the silent, but you’ll certainly see the far and few in between in this series. It’s something Murphy excels at doing in every one of his shows–giving a voice to the silent, soft-spoken, and oppressed. It’s personally why he’s one of my favorite creators.

One of the downsides to Hollywood is that it is incredibly slow-paced through its first three episodes. The character development is slow to start, and at first, it seems like the show is purely sexual with no other direction. But at the halfway point of the season, things take a literary and narrative turn and things finally start happening.

Up until this point, I wasn’t sure I’d really enjoy the series, because I wanted much more out of it. Especially given that the cast has the likes of Darren Criss in it, one of Murphy’s favorite stars to cast. I expect high-quality content when it comes to a Criss and Murphy collaboration, and while at first the series doesn’t seem to deliver the best, it does improve the more you watch. Plus, Jim Parsons’ character will keep you entertained and engaged from the minute he graces the screen–I’m pretty sure he will be a part of award season for this role. Just saying it now–you heard it here first.

The culmination of 1940s Hollywood, the stories of that time, and the folks that were a big part of what was then known as “Hollywoodland” make this series worth watching. You may not find yourself in a mood to binge it, but when you get to the halfway point, I can promise you’ll be singing a different tune.

I give Hollywood a B.

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HOLLYWOOD

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