Movie and tv people love nothing more than making movies and tv about, well, people making movies and tv.
Even Apple’s first foray in to streaming was with the The Morning Show which gave us the inside track on making tv (including some of the dark stuff). And now, not for the first, time Netflix is diving deep into the movie world with its big launch of the week Hollywood, a mix of fact and fiction centred on a gas station where uttering the words “I want to go to Dreamland” got you more than a fuel fill-up.
Camilla Long at The Sunday Times (paywall) says “It felt like someone woke up shouting, “I want to make a heartwarming and sentimental television series about a garage that’s also a brothel, set in 1940s Hollywood,” and instead of giving him the rest of his Quaaludes, Netflix commissioned a seven-episode miniseries. It glided over my brain like a feather boa, beautiful, silly, dissolute.”
In Rolling Stone Alan Sepinwall acknowledges the pedigree of Hollywood’s creators Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan (co-creators of Glee) and points out that “Murphy has always been better at big ideas than small details, and the sentimentality of the piece, coupled with the potency of many of the performances, after a while becomes infectious, making Hollywood’s weak spots easy to forgive… Ultimately, Hollywood errs on the side of dreaming, but who doesn’t like to dream about a better world than the one we have?”
In The New York Times James Poniewozik sees “The pleasures of Hollywood are in its eye for historical details and its lusty, swellegant period cosplay.”However of the series’ notion that things could have been better he is less sure: “It argues that the path of history was not set by intractable forces but might have been rerouted had a few of the right people done the right thing… It’s a noble thought and an audacious premise. It doesn’t work”.
In truth there’s a lot about Hollywood that doesn’t work, but its glamour, costumes and fine performances of a gilded age of movie-making, troubled by a dark under-current make it an entertaining watch. Its wokeness will grate for some, but we reckon this trip to Dreamland is worth a go.
Hollywood first shown May 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.