We need to talk about “Hollywood” – the most dishonest, delusional, self-important and potentially destructive alternative-reality TV series to be spit out by Netflix during this endless pandemic.
How could show creator Ryan Murphy, backed by a stellar cast including the awesome Darren Criss, hilarious Jim Parsons and Broadway veteran Patti LuPone, get this tale from Hollywood’s Golden Age so insufferably wrong?
Set in the world’s film capital circa 1947, the show does a top-down rewrite of the soul-crushing, heart-stomping, life-threatening evils that ruled over Tinseltown back in the day.
It’s as if some magic wand descended from the heavens and – poof! – eliminated the homophobia that prevented movie star Rock Hudson from openly living as the gay man he was.
Gone is the anti-Asian racism that denied a meaningful career to the tragic Anna May Wong. And erased to the point of ludicrousness is the unhinged sexism that drove actress Peg Entwistle to jump to her death from the iconic Hollywoodland sign.
This all really happened. But Murphy & Crew simply sprinkle fairy dust over the California swamp, and so much ugly history simply vanishes or is changed beyond recognition.
Everything that was (and maybe still is) wrong with La La Land is simply wished away. And then, by extension, all the isms and phobias that have plagued America and the rest of the world follow suit, and disappear, too, as Hollywood leads the planet into evolving into one big woke and diverse utopia by the time the end credits roll.
What a crock.
Hollywood, which seems destined for a number of self-congratulatory Emmy Awards, got a whole lot of things criminally wrong.
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It excises the struggles faced by stars and all those denied their rightful places in popular culture because they were born into the wrong race, sex or sexuality. As it was in their lifetimes, their pain is ignored, as bigotry throughout society is willed into non-existence.
But perhaps the worst sin is the way the series pits bigotries against each other. This cannot be forgiven.
The show centres around a plan to make a movie originally titled Peg – a biopic about the real-life Entwistle, whose fatal plunge from the Hollywoodland sign was to be a cautionary tale about movie-making cruelty.
In the series, a black actress was cast to play the caucasian starlet, whose name was changed to “Meg”. Fair enough. But then, in this retelling, she was denied the very tragedy that defined her existence. In a fit of zeal to right Hollywood’s wrongs, her death was erased.
In the show, the script for Meg was rewritten so the actress chooses not to die, but instead climbs down from the sign, very much alive. Cue the triumphant music. Rather than ending her life in pain and misery, her story has been changed. She breathes. She walks. Her career flourishes. And Hollywood wins back its moral authority.
At the end of the series, Meg is a hit, winning multiple Oscars. Even white-supremacist protesters shut their mouths. And Hollywood newcomer Rock Hudson, who has a part in the film, publicly kisses his African-American screenwriter boyfriend at the movie’s premiere, shutting down homophobes, eliminating a life spent in the closet and, we can presume, preventing Hudson’s 1985 death from AIDS.
But what picture really won the Academy Award for a picture made in 1947? It was Gentleman’s Agreement.
The flick, starring Gregory Peck, famously takes on the anti-Semitism that proliferates worldwide until this day. But all traces of this groundbreaking movie are conveniently excised from Hollywood history. We are fed a fairy tale of equality. For everyone except Jews, that is.
I can only hope Hollywood suffers the same fate this offensive series bestowed on actual Hollywood. Let it be ignored.
This story originally appeared on the New York Post and has been reproduced here with permission