Set in the late 40s, Netflix’s ‘Hollywood’ is a reimagination of the era and plays with the idea of what could have been. It portrays that world as bolder, more audacious in its decision making and focuses on the changes that the film industry should have gone through all those years ago. Apart from this look into an alternate reality, it ends on a hopeful note. If you haven’t yet caught up with the show, head over to Netflix. SPOILERS AHEAD
Jack Castello is an aspiring actor who is waiting to get his big break in Hollywood. But it’s taking too long, and he needs to get a job that pays him enough to take care of his pregnant wife. He starts working at a gas station, but it turns out that the owner runs a prostitution ring through it, and the clientele comes directly from Hollywood. Castello works alongside Archie Coleman, a black, gay writer who has penned a script based on the life of Peg Entwistle.
Young director Raymond Ainsley wants to make a film with an Asian-American in the lead. Camille Washington is the most talented actress on the payroll of Ace Studios but doesn’t get the deserving roles because she is African-American. Claire West’s father owns the studio, but she wants to make it in Hollywood on her own.
After keeping with the budget and going out of their way to secure the film, the whole cast and crew wake up to a surprise on the next day of the film’s release. It looks like even after all the threats and restrictions, ‘Meg’ is performing wonderfully at the box office. Soon after, the Oscar nominations start pouring in, and almost everyone gets nominated for their work on the film.
In the ceremony, the actors also decide to take a stand for themselves. Archie and Rock appear together, holding hands. Camille is stopped from entering the hall, but she warns the gatekeeper of the consequences of keeping her out and walks right in, taking her rightful place. There are a few misses, but most of the awards fall right into their lap.
Motivated by the success of ‘Meg’, Henry decides to make a romance film about gay characters. Dick Samuels dies, but in his memory, Avis greenlights Henry’s project. In the end, we find the crew filming ‘Dreamland’ at the gas station, which Ernie plans to close due to lack of business.
What Does it Mean for Hollywood?
The Hollywood that Ryan Murphy imagines in this show is not the one that existed at the time. It was rife with racism and bias and unacceptance and every other flaw you could possibly imagine. The point of making this story was the “what if” of Murphy’s imagination. What if they had done the right things? What if they weren’t so afraid of being themselves and allowing others to be the same? The ending, too, leads us into this future. What if all of this had happened? What would Hollywood have been like now? How would the world have been?
For a lot of people, there would be no sense of brooding about the past and thinking about all the wrongs that happened. But the fact that we are still not over all of those problems, even after all these years, the fact that perhaps we are not yet as fearless as we should be, is the point of the story. People are still fighting for representation and against typecasting. There are still sexual assaults, and there is still a long way to go about the way people of color are portrayed in Hollywood.
Even as a society, we know that racism, homophobia, and everything else in-between exists. Just because things have gotten better as compared to before doesn’t mean we should just sit back and be content with the way they are. The most important thing is to continue working on making the world a better place every single day, and that’s what we find Ace Studios doing in the final scene of ‘Hollywood’.
The success of ‘Meg’ comes as a shock to all the people who had been a part of the project. They broke a barrier, and despite all odds, did not fail. Should they take a break now? Is their work done? Of course not. There are a lot of other barriers to break, and they have to keep doing it until all the things that they had struggled to incorporate in ‘Meg’ become a regular thing. They have to keep at it because even with ‘Dreamland’, they still have a long way to go. Archie says that films have the power to change the world, and that’s what Ace Studios needs to do with their movies.
Read More: How Much of Netflix’s Hollywood is True?