Laura Harrier as Camille Washington and Darren Criss as Raymond Ainsley In "Hollywood". Picture: Netflix
Laura Harrier as Camille Washington and Darren Criss as Raymond Ainsley In "Hollywood". Picture: Netflix

'Hollywood' tackles racism, sexism and homophobia in glorious fashion

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published May 1, 2020

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"Hollywood" puts a mirror to the hypocrisy of the tinsel town tackling racism, sexism and homophobia. 

Set in a post-World War II Los Angeles, in a “What If” scenario Hollywood follows an aspiring filmmaker, actors and screenwriter as they navigate the cut-throat hustle of the movie industry. 

Ryan Murphy is no stranger to making provocative television but "Hollywood" sees him hit is stride. I want to out on a limb and say that this has been his best show thus far. When it comes to his projects the midway point is usually where his shows either are a full-on hit or the wheels for off the cart. "Hollywood" never loses steam and only gets better from one episode to the next.

When I watched the trailer I was very apprehensive about how he was gonna approach themes such and racism and sexism without glamorising it. 

Since that is a trope used by many who tackle the filmmaking industry. Where "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" by Quentin Tarantino was a love letter to cinema and those in the film industry. "Hollywood" calls out the hypocrisy of the industry through the lens of our lead characters. 

And the acting is nothing short of spectacular across the broad. Holland Taylor (Ellen Kincaid), Jim Parsons (Henry Willson), Michelle Krusiec (Anna May Wong), Patti LuPone (Avis Amberg) and Joe Mantello’s (Dick Samuels) characters have so much depth and nuance to them that they draw you in the minute they come on screen. This is both due to the acting and the brilliant screenwriting. 

Watching the show you can see the that having Janet Mock, who is a black trans woman, as one of the show’s executive producers with regards to giving depth to Camille Washington (Laura Harrier) and Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope). Since often black women and black queer characters often are given very little character development. 

And by the end of the show, "Hollywood" raises the question of how different things would be if the gatekeepers of entertainment media weren’t afraid to have queer people/queer people of colour and woman of colour represented without them perpetuating ignorant stereotypes. 

Since entertainment plays such a big role with regards to how people view the world, Halle Berry might be on a long list of black actresses who won the Best Actress Oscar instead of the only one. "RuPaul’s Drag Race" wouldn’t have to be one of the main sources for queer representation in mainstream media. 

The show still has Murphy’s flare for campiness but he found a way to include thought-provoking subtext. The show also perfectly balances tonality from lighthearted to serious and pulled at my heartstrings by the end. 

"Hollywood" is truly a masterpiece and is a much-watch series. Murphy and his team have made something that will leave you thinking while still giving an entertaining binge-watching experience.

"Hollywood" is streaming on Netflix

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