Netflix’s Hollywood Solves Racism and Homophobia With Speeches and Gowns

Hollywood Netflix

Words: Miles Holder

Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood on Netflix is a glamourous retelling of life in a post-war 1940s Los Angeles. While there’s a lot the series gets right, from Sarah Evelyn’s beautiful work on costume design to the career topping performances of Dylan McDermott, Jeremy Pope and Samara Weaving – viewers must not forget that all things considered, this is very much a work of fiction.

While Alternate Fiction as a genre is nothing new, Netflix’s Hollywood takes the dangerous route of never outwardly announcing to its audience that it is a work of fiction. With so many real names interweaved among the fictional ones, many viewers are taking the show’s half-truths as gospel.

Hollywood Netflix

The only ones who benefit from the erasure of Hollywood’s brutal history of racism and homophobia, are those that perpetrated it. It’s an obvious ploy by the show’s creators to gain viewership by not highlighting the true crimes of California’s history. Some viewers get to marvel at Netflix’s Hollywood where the dreams of all peoples came true, but the rest of us can never forget that for people like us, the dream was very much a nightmare.

There are many times when the historic inaccuracies of the show are too outlandish to ignore. For starters, black and white characters are often depicted dining in luxurious restaurants as if segregation didn’t exist. You need only see the photographs of the abuse African-Americans endured during the civil right movement’s sit-ins to know how violently white America protected its “right” to segregate.

Hollywood Netflix

It’s not only African Americans who suffer from this mistelling of history, throughout the series, we also sit through many of the characters openly declaring their love for their same-sex partners. It’s laid on so thick that at times, it’s as if the characters themselves million-man marched their way to stonewall and hurled several bricks twenty years before the famous protest even began.

There are moments during the series where the plot dips its smallest of toes into the reality of oppression before swiftly resolving the issue with a heartfelt monologue. As if all those years of brutal oppression could have been solved had only someone given Bill Pullman a megaphone and his Independence Day script.

What is most damaging is the fact that it paints a picture of Hollywood which still to this day, simply does not exist. In our real-world, the list of black stars to win Best Actress at The Oscars is Halle Berry and ONLY Halle Berry. SPOILER: On Hollywood however, character Camille Washington (played by Laura Harrier) easily obtains the award for her first leading performance.
Camillie is loosely based off of real-life actress Dorothy Dandridge who spent her life clawing for but a spec of the recognition Camille obtains so with ease.

Worst yet, real-life actor Rock Hudson is shown settling down with his African-American boyfriend in a beautiful mansion. I wish I had space in this article to explain why California’s Red Tape laws would have ruined this happy ending. The real-life Rock Hudson was diagnosed with HIV in 1984, and sadly passed away a year later from AIDS and was never allowed the freedom to publically come out.
Netflix’s Hollywood expects the audience to forget that thousands of people in California were thrown in jail and later sterilized in the 1940s but a same-sex kiss at The Oscars would have been met with cheers.

Hollywood Netflix

This isn’t to say that the show is objectively bad, for some, I am sure it is a masterpiece on all bases. However, real lives were lost and careers ruined and we’re asked to forget their struggles so that we can marvel at pretty people achieve goals far beyond their reach? That’s just not fair and would be disrespectful to the legacy of those that suffered so that this show could exist.