I wasn’t especially interested in seeing Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan‘s Hollywood miniseries (Netflix, currently streaming) as it sounded, to go by reviews, like another exercise in woke historical revisionism.
The series reimagines late ’40s and ’50s Hollywood by eliminating musty taboos and prejudices that were in force 60 or 70 years ago. Hollywood on the planet Tralfamadore. Powerful women players (directors, agents, casting directors), gay guys and people of color occupying significant slots in the power structure plus a Scotty Bowers-like gas station offering sexual services.
Recreating and re-inventing America’s ethnic and sexual history has been in fashion since Hamilton, I reasoned, or over the last five years. Hardly a radical or even interesting idea today. Or so I thought.
Last night I finally watched the first two episodes, and guess what? Hollywood is engrossing, well-written, briskly paced, not predictable and most of the actors get it right. (I was particularly taken with David Corenswet, the lead character.) The wokester fantasyland thing, it turns out, is dramatically liberating. Or it felt that way to me. I intend to watch the remaining five episodes.
The actor playing Rock Hudson, Jake Picking, still isn’t right. (Murphy couldn’t find a so-so actor who at least half-resembles young Hudson?) But the guy playing agent Henry Willson, Jim Parsons, is exactly right in every department. Samara Weaving as extra-ambitious actress Claire Wood has a special blonde spitfire thing going on. This is partly because she’s actually attractive in a 20th Century sense, which is somewhat unusual in this day and age.