Ryan Murphy’s upcoming Netflix series Hollywood was previously described as a “love letter to the Golden Age of Tinseltown.” According to executive producer Janet Mock’s interview with The Hollywood Reporter, however, the series — which she described as an “aspirational tale of what ifs” — is less about revisiting the past than it is about rewriting it.
"What if a band of outsiders were given a chance to tell their own story? What if the person with greenlight power was a woman? The screenwriter a black man? What if the heroine was a woman of color? The matinee idol openly gay? And what if they were all invited into the room where the decisions are made, entering fully and unapologetically themselves to leave victorious and vaunted, their place in history cemented?" she pondered to THR.
The first photos of the series, posted to the official Hollywood Instagram, tease what we can expect.
One photo shows stars David Corenswet, Darren Criss, Jeremy Pope, and Jake Picking, wearing gas station attendant uniforms.
Previously, it was announced that the show would explore the lives of sex workers who conduct their business out of a gas station. This is likely a nod to Scotty Bowers, referred to as the “male madame” of Hollywood, who worked out of a gas station and claims to have arranged affairs for Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and more.
Picking portrays a fictionalized version of Rock Hudson, who reportedly had ties to Bowers in real life. Dylan McDermott, seen in another photo handing Corenswet’s character Jack money, may be playing a character based on Bowers himself. Patti LuPone, who portrays the wife of a studio head, is also seen with Jack, suggesting she may be one of the station’s clients — something that Corenswet previously teased.
“The first half of the scene I get to sit there and listen to her deliver this amazing monologue and then she gets to tell me to undress,” Corenswet said of LuPone in an interview with Variety.
Other photos include one of Samara Weaving with Laura Harrier, the latter of whom’s character was likened to one of the first Black movie stars, Dorothy Dandridge, by Variety.
“I love to think about what the world could have looked like had we been able to have representation of women, of people of color, of people of the LGBTQ community at the beginning of Hollywood,” Harrier told Variety of the upcoming show. “How would movies and TV look different? How would the world look different?”
Murphy has strived for inclusion in many of his projects. His FX series Pose features a largely queer and trans cast and tells the story of the ball scene in New York in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Glee, his long-running Fox musical dramedy, featured a diverse cast and strove to put underrepresented groups, as well as LGBTQ+ relationships, in the spotlight. In 2017, Murphy created the HALF initiative, which aimed to give women and underrepresented groups more opportunities behind the camera.
With Hollywood, it seems we’ll soon find out what the entertainment industry could have been like, had active inclusion started earlier.
Hollywood premieres on Netflix May 1, 2020.