A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hollywood is a Netflix series created by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) that centers on a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II Hollywood trying to make it big in Tinseltown in the 1940s. It's a raw depiction of what the outcome of history could have possibly been like if the voices of the marginalized had a true place at the table during a time when society and social norms were dictated by a homogenous, nearly impenetrable power structure. There are many graphic sex scenes that include: oral sex, sex, as well as sex parties among Hollywood's power-brokers and newcomers to the industry. Breasts, penises, and buttocks are visible. There's adultery, extramarital affairs, and prostitution. Language includes words such as "cock," "d--k," "whore," "f--k," and more. Racial epithets such as "Jewie" and "Colored" are also used. There are themes of activism, overcoming obstacles and adversity, and perseverance. Compromising on moral convictions for financial and career gain are major themes -- these compromises for the sake of "making it" are great talking points to discuss with older teens.
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What's the story?
HOLLYWOOD is a drama series set in the 1940s about Jack Castello (David Corenswet) a war veteran who aspires to be a Hollywood star, Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope) a gay, black screenwriter looking for his big break, Raymond Ainsley (Darren Criss) an idealistic director and his beautiful, black girlfriend Camille Washington (Laura Harrier) who is tired of playing the stereotypical maid in Hollywood films, Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec) a glamorous and talented actress who knows that she will never get the work that she deserves as a minority in Hollywood, and Claire Wood (Samara Weaving) an aspiring actress who is jaded and burdened by her own privilege. All learn lessons on the price that it takes to make it in Hollywood.
Is it any good?
Ryan Murphy's fast-paced, gripping, and raw series is also very well-cast. From veteran actress Patti Lupone ,who marvelously plays Avis Amberg, to newcomer Jeremy Pope who steps into the role of Archie Coleman with great conviction. The meticulous attention to set, prop, and costume design immediately transports viewers into the luxurious, glamour-filled post-war, Tinseltown days of old. In true Murphy fashion, Hollywood is provocative and in your face and often a rare depiction where the tables are turned and the voices of the marginalized are trumpeted, and rewrite history through the narrative. That said, the ugliness and oftentimes demeaning social norms among the elite in Hollywood are depicted brazenly, and the unspoken compromises that overshadow success inspire some in-depth thought about whether making it big in Hollywood is worth it.
Without being preachy, the series does an excellent job of highlighting the social and political climate during the 1940s, and sheds a light on the hardships of women of color in Hollywood, homophobia, life in the closet, privilege, and more. While there are too many graphic scenes for this to be considered appropriate for the whole family, there are many thematic topics such as compromise, integrity, racism, sexism and social activism that can be discussed with older teens. This series also does an effective job of paying homage to women who were trailblazers in Hollywood, like Dorothy Dandridge, Hattie McDaniel, Lena Horne, Anna May Wong and Irene Selznick.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the social and political climate of the 1940s, Hollywood and role models, and the themes of racism, sexism, and homophobia present within the series. What was the political and social climate like in Tinseltown in the 1940s? What political figures are an influence in the series?
In the series, Hollywood, many are in pursuit of their dream to make it big in Hollywood. In what ways do some of the characters compromise for their dreams? What characters in the film do not compromise on their integrity?
In the film, racist and sexist norms exist. In what ways do racism and sexism affect some of the lead characters in the series?
In Hollywood, there are stars portrayed in the series. Are any of these stars role models? If so, what character strengths do they have?
Hollywood is set in the 1940's. In what ways have the social and political climate in America changed, if any? What role does the character Eleanor Roosevelt play in advocating for another woman?
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Themes & Topics
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