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S01.E07: A Hollywood Ending

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On 5/3/2020 at 9:41 AM, dubbel zout said:

I think Rock Hudson got the worst writing. Some of it was downright cruel, imo, in that he was SO naive. Winnetka is a northern suburb of Chicago, so even when he was there in the '20s and '30s, it's not as if he'd been living in the middle of nowhere.

They turned him into a big dumb bumpkin who was nothing more than a sweet oaf.  He may have been naive with midwest values when he came to Hollywood, but he still had a chiseled jaw, deeper voice, dashing good lucks and obvious charm.  This guy, very little (if any) of that.

Edited by SWLinPHX
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On 5/12/2020 at 7:46 AM, Florinaldo said:

This was an alternative history, something science-fiction readers are rather familiar with since it is a frequent literary device in the genre (it is also called "uchronia"); some authors have even made a career of writing practically only that.

The points of divergence can be rather minor, as was the case in this TV series, where the premise is that a few people were ready much earlier than in our reality to stand up for diversity, with a certain  success.

In SF the differences are often much more radical, like the numerous fictions having to do with Hitler dying young or emigrating to the US right after WW I, Louis XVI correcting his foolish blindspots and preventing the Revolution, or Lincoln not being assassinated; I also remember one dealing with Ancien Greece winning over the world and the Roman Empire never emerging, as well a one where Muhammad becomes a Christian saint instead of founding a new religion. And as another poster mentioned, there are examples of the colour divide being obliterated or even reversed in the history of slavery.

To clarify, it's not the alternate history in and of itself that bothered me.  I think many of the examples you gave can be very intriguing if well-executed.  But this just was not believable or realistic to me.  It was more like a Disney alternate history and I simply could not suspend disbelief or be drawn in because it just seemed like Murphy putting stuff on the screen which he personally enjoys to see (gay men, naked men, his favorite stars, good-looking people, opulent lifestyles, bitchy women, etc.), as if it was made mostly for himself (and maybe a very specific targeted demographic) than for the public as a whole.  It was so simplistic and unrealistic that my eye-rolling hit an all-time high.  I would be all for an alternate history that shows events unfolding naturally and logically due to one or two turns of events, but not a fantasy which is just wishful thinking without substance.

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22 hours ago, SWLinPHX said:

To clarify, it's not the alternate history in and of itself that bothered me.  I think many of the examples you gave can be very intriguing if well-executed.  But this just was not believable or realistic to me.  It was more like a Disney alternate history and I simply could not suspend disbelief or be drawn in because it just seemed like Murphy putting stuff on the screen which he personally enjoys to see (gay men, naked men, his favorite stars, good-looking people, opulent lifestyles, bitchy women, etc.), as if it was made mostly for himself (and maybe a very specific targeted demographic) than for the public as a whole.  It was so simplistic and unrealistic that my eye-rolling hit an all-time high.  I would be all for an alternate history that shows events unfolding naturally and logically due to one or two turns of events, but not a fantasy which is just wishful thinking without substance.

Precisely.   It's not the premise of an alternate reality which is the issue but how well it's written.   I'm rolling my eyes at Ryan Murphy saying in  interviews that he didn't  make the series "for the critics" but for those who have lacked representation.  Say what?    Good intentions by themselves don't equate to a quality product.  

This article sums up alot of the problems with the series.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/why-ryan-murphys-hollywood-revisionism-rankles-1294548

 

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On 5/12/2020 at 10:46 AM, Florinaldo said:

The plot was perhaps a little simplistic and overly optimistic, although they were realistic enough to show that even Meg’s success did not miraculously eradicate all prejudice. Which might be explored in a second season, although they would have to dig deeper into darker material.

The show didn't claim that all prejudice was eradicated, but it went so far as say in the newsreel that the protests against Meg quickly disappeared because America loved the film so much. Even for a Ryan Murphy show, that was pretty ridiculous.

Plenty of people have already pointed out the huge problem with this series - its suggestion that if marginalized people of the past had just stood up for themselves, they would have hugely sped up the civil rights movement and landed the careers they wanted. (Never mind that two gay men who publicly came out could have easily landed in jail.)

So here are a few other issues I had:

- The writers delve into how wrong it was for Henry to sexually exploit people, but Ernie is treated like some kind of saint? This is the same guy who used a bait-and-switch to entice Jack into prostitution, then tried to bully him into sex with men, then stole Jack's earnings when he refused.

- Jack posing as a cop and pointing a gun at Archie, and tricking him into believing that he was being arrested for gay prostitution, was treated as an adorable way for them to become friends. "Ha ha, you thought I was ruining your life, but really I just want to give you a job!" Worst of all, there was no reason whatsoever for Jack to do that. He could have just approached Archie and asked if he wanted a better-paying gig.

- Jim Parsons just recycled his Sheldon schtick to play Henry. Absolutely terrible casting. I couldn't buy for even a second that Henry was some sort of Hollywood power player with mob connections. I guess maybe I could buy him as a lonely wardrobe assistant who feels up the actors when he's taking their measurements - but not as someone who was respected and feared in the studio system of old Hollywood.

- What on earth was the point of showing us that Henry blackmailed Avis with pictures of her at the garage, to try to get Rock the lead? She seemed to be giving in (by pushing for Rock even though his screen test was horrible) - then she sees Jack and says "Let's cast him!" and there are no repercussions? And soon after that Henry is using his dirty tricks to help Jack keep the lead? I have no clue why the writers even bothered with that. But then again, that's the case with a lot of Ryan Murphy plot points.

- How on earth did the lawyer have the authority to seize the reels? Did Ace's will say, "My wife gets to run the studio if I'm incapacitated, but then my lawyer gets to run the studio for a day after I die, and then my wife takes over?"

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1 hour ago, Blakeston said:

The writers delve into how wrong it was for Henry to sexually exploit people, but Ernie is treated like some kind of saint?

Henry is worse because his sexual exploitation was quid pro quo: Do as I say and I'll get you this job. And if you refused, he could badmouth you and make sure you never worked again. At least with Ernie you could say no and the worst he would do is call you a pussy. There were other options for employment. He wasn't going to ruin your life the way Henry could.

Both men were predators in their own way, but you had much more of a choice with Ernie.

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- How on earth did the lawyer have the authority to seize the reels? Did Ace's will say, "My wife gets to run the studio if I'm incapacitated, but then my lawyer gets to run the studio for a day after I die, and then my wife takes over?"

I didn't get that either. Also, I'm not sure the writers understood how film works. Studios make hundreds of prints to distribute to theaters all over the world. All that group did was destroy a print and they acted like the film was lost forever until that old editor revealed he'd made a copy. Well, what from? The negative, that's what. Unless they destroyed the negative they could just make more prints. And if they did destroy the negative the studio isn't going to be able to make more prints to distribute to the theaters.

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7 hours ago, Blakeston said:

Plenty of people have already pointed out the huge problem with this series - its suggestion that if marginalized people of the past had just stood up for themselves, they would have hugely sped up the civil rights movement and landed the careers they wanted. (Never mind that two gay men who publicly came out could have easily landed in jail.)

I feel like what they were going for (e.g. the conversation(s) when they were talking about the power of cinema to change culture, Archie's conversation with Avis) wasn't that if marginalized people had stood up for themselves it would have sped up the civil rights movement, but that if the sympathetic people in places of privilege/power had had the guts to stand up for them it would have sped up the civil rights movement.

What on earth was the point of showing us that Henry blackmailed Avis with pictures of her at the garage, to try to get Rock the lead? She seemed to be giving in (by pushing for Rock even though his screen test was horrible) - then she sees Jack and says "Let's cast him!" and there are no repercussions? And soon after that Henry is using his dirty tricks to help Jack keep the lead? I have no clue why the writers even bothered with that. But then again, that's the case with a lot of Ryan Murphy plot points.

You know, I wondered about her casting Jack, too.  Then in the episode where Jack's been exposed, she openly admitted to having frequented the garage* and presented it like it was common knowledge.  Maybe at some point she decided she didn't give a fuck who knew?  Maybe related to her husband's affair, since she admitted to the Mira Sorvino character that she'd also slept around?  I can't remember the timeline.

*leading to one of my favorite parts of the series which was her telling Jack she was surprised she'd never seen him there, and him shrugging.

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I feel like what they were going for (e.g. the conversation(s) when they were talking about the power of cinema to change culture, Archie's conversation with Avis) wasn't that if marginalized people had stood up for themselves it would have sped up the civil rights movement, but that if the sympathetic people in places of privilege/power had had the guts to stand up for them it would have sped up the civil rights movement.

That's sort of a distinction without much difference though, isn't it? Hey, I'm all for an alternate history story - I was a big fan of Sliders. Generally the purpose of them is to illustrate how things might have turned out if history had played out in a different way - usually for the worse. But I'm not sure what the point of this was. It just feels like pointless wish fulfillment. There wouldn't have been any way for Ace studios to release this film because the Hayes code prohibited depictions of inter-racial relationships. Which they pointed out themselves in an early episode. I mean, it's not like they pretended that code didn't exist or that prohibition didn't exist, they acknowledged it, then simply ignored it!

The last couple of episodes just seemed like somebody's fever dream. I honestly don't know what they were aiming for aside from a whole lot of didactic speechifying. I think a better story would have seen Ace studios going out of business as a result of trying to release this film but standing firm in their principals. Then flash forward 60 years or so and find out that "Meg" became some kind of cult fan favorite. 

Showing two gay men walking hand in hand on the red carpet, and kissing in front of an audience? Then pretending it wouldn't have been met with much more than a smattering of boos? That's actually offensive in its pretension. 

Edited by iMonrey
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2 minutes ago, iMonrey said:

That's sort of a distinction without much difference though, isn't it?

I don't think so.  Minority groups were campaigning for civil rights all through this period, the biggest difference is how much those in power opted to listen.

As far as the Hayes Code goes, since the Hayes Code was only ever voluntary self-censorship, I assume what they were going for was that the film demonstrated that you could succeed outside it (which is what happened in real-life, though the collapse of the Code was in reality a process that played out over two decades).  This is another case where it feels like the writers took the germ of a plausible scenario and then inflated it past plausibility -- I could believe that Meg found some measure of success commercially (there were indeed audiences primed for more risque material than the Code allowed), but not that it became an era-defining mega-hit.

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3 hours ago, iMonrey said:

The last couple of episodes just seemed like somebody's fever dream. I honestly don't know what they were aiming for aside from a whole lot of didactic speechifying. I think a better story would have seen Ace studios going out of business as a result of trying to release this film but standing firm in their principals. Then flash forward 60 years or so and find out that "Meg" became some kind of cult fan favorite. 

Ooh I like your alternative history much better. Much more realistic and poignant. I just couldn't get past all the fairytale schmaltz of this show.

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23 hours ago, SeanC said:

I don't think so.  Minority groups were campaigning for civil rights all through this period, the biggest difference is how much those in power opted to listen.

But the show tried to pass off the people in power as being outsiders, too. Avis was a Jewish woman, whose acting career was destroyed because she was Jewish. And the people directly below her were a woman and a gay man. The idea certainly seemed to be that if minorities had just stood up for one another, they would have accomplished everything they wanted. Blech.

Not only were we supposed to believe that Rock and Archie could live happily ever after while being completely out of the closet, but we were also supposed to believe that Rock could become a big star, and that the gay rights movement became organized much sooner than in the real world. (Henry said that he was going to a support group for gay men to accept themselves - and I really don't think anything like that existed in the '40s. Presumably gays across America were so inspired by Ryan Murphy's characters that they came out and hosted meet-ups. Again, blech.)

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18 minutes ago, Blakeston said:

But the show tried to pass off the people in power as being outsiders, too. Avis was a Jewish woman, whose acting career was destroyed because she was Jewish. And the people directly below her were a woman and a gay man.

I mean, the wish fulfillment angle kind of starts by gifting the outsiders control of a studio, which they didn't have (well, it was true that studios in this period were generally owned and operated by Jews, but that ironically is one minority group whose onscreen representation isn't addressed by this series at all).

Bottom line is, I don't think the series is suggesting that things would have been like this if only the oppressed had behaved differently.  But since the series wants to center its marginalized heroes, and generally in a good story your protagonists have agency, it obviously celebrates their drive and success.

As I said, I don't think it does a particularly good job of this, given how obstacles just sort of melt away into pure wish fulfillment as it goes on.  But that's a separate matter as far as good dramatic storytelling goes.  The aspects of the ending that are the least plausible are, unfortunately, the aspects of it that I suspect are dearest to Ryan Murphy's heart, namely, the massive acceleration in gay visibility.

Edited by SeanC

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1 hour ago, Blakeston said:

But the show tried to pass off the people in power as being outsiders, too. Avis was a Jewish woman, whose acting career was destroyed because she was Jewish. And the people directly below her were a woman and a gay man. The idea certainly seemed to be that if minorities had just stood up for one another, they would have accomplished everything they wanted. Blech.

Presumably gays across America were so inspired by Ryan Murphy's characters that they came out and hosted meet-ups. Again, blech.)

The general message here seemed to be that gays were so inspired that they gave up their hedonistic lifestyles and settled down with boyfriends because that's what all gays should do. Which, you know, is nice but I kind of felt like there was a bit of condescension going on- that gays have to be secretive and promiscuous because they're ashamed, and if you remove that shame you'll see that all gays really want is to have a husband. Umm, no. 

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Just finished this series.  I enjoyed it overall, even if I thought the ending was a little too neat.  I've never watched a show by Ryan Murphy before, and in reading the comments in this forum, it appears that all of his shows seem to have a similar agenda?  Even though I thought it was a bit schmaltzy, I enjoyed seeing Anna May Wong and Camille Washington and Archie win their Oscars.

I was curious about whether there would be any Emmy buzz for this show, and it seems much of it surrounds Jeremy Pope, Darren Criss, Jim Parsons and Patti LuPone.  I think Patti LuPone is definitely deserving.  She, Holland Taylor, and That Guy who played Dick Samuels were all great and would all be worthy Emmy nominees.  Jeremy Pope was good.  But I guess I don't understand the hype about Darren Criss, seems like nothing special to me. 

On 5/15/2020 at 9:07 AM, Blakeston said:

- Jim Parsons just recycled his Sheldon schtick to play Henry. Absolutely terrible casting. I couldn't buy for even a second that Henry was some sort of Hollywood power player with mob connections. I guess maybe I could buy him as a lonely wardrobe assistant who feels up the actors when he's taking their measurements - but not as someone who was respected and feared in the studio system of old Hollywood.

I agree, it was hard to look at him and not see Sheldon.  I've never seen him in anything else, is that his normal regular voice?  Seems like he was just Sheldon play acting in a period drama.  And yeah, I don't understand how this twerp of a character had so much power in Hollywood.  Jack refused to be taken advantage of and it certainly didn't seem to have ruined Jack's career.

On 5/4/2020 at 11:52 PM, AgentRXS said:

It was alright. The older actors saved this from being a complete mess, especially Ms. Patti.

I absolutely hate the dumbing down of Rock Hudson. That actor captured nothing of the real Rock Hudson's charm. It was painful and a blight on the series, if you ask me.

All this talk of inclusion and acceptance, and they had lighter skinned Queen Latifah play darker skinned Hattie. No bueno, in my opinion. Very disappointing and highly ironic. RM would have scored a million points with me if he had used someone that looked like the real Hattie,even if she wasn't a household name.

On 5/5/2020 at 9:24 AM, hertolo said:

Add me in to the line that didn't understand why they had to use the name Rock Hudson. If you change his life arc so radically, you may as well just give a new name.

I think the whole point of using Rock Hudson as an actual character is that the producers apparently found him to be some kind of tragic figure, being a huge star but having to live in secret.  They wanted to envision what his life would be like if he had been able to live his life openly from the beginning.  I'm curious as to what their suggestion is.  It sounds like after appearing on the red carpet with Archie, in the ensuing year, he was put on contract with Ace Studios but lost a lot of roles.  Then they cast him in the 1948 Brokeback Mountain with Jack.  Is this supposed to have kickstarted his career?  Or would he get pigeonholed into these roles?  I guess perhaps they are suggesting that this is a "new" and "changed" and "woke" Hollywood in the late 1940s, in which a leading man like Jack Castello would not hesitate at the subject matter.

Queen Latifah was one of the draws of this show for me when I saw the promotional materials.  I agree that I don't think she looks anything at all like Hattie McDaniel.  But I do think she was great in the role.  I would submit her for the Guest Actress category for the Emmys.

I've read some talk about a potential Season 2, but I don't see how or why.  I feel like these characters had their story told and they got their point across, no need to see them again.  Let them live out their neatly happy lives.

 

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7 hours ago, blackwing said:

I agree, it was hard to look at him and not see Sheldon.  I've never seen him in anything else, is that his normal regular voice?  Seems like he was just Sheldon play acting in a period drama.  And yeah, I don't understand how this twerp of a character had so much power in Hollywood.  Jack refused to be taken advantage of and it certainly didn't seem to have ruined Jack's career.

Jack boned some key people at Ace, though.  There was the casting girl that got him through the gate, and Avis.  I can't think of anything specific Avis did for him because of their extracurricular activities, but it certainly can't have hurt.  He already had his foot in the door when Henry propositioned him on the tennis court (that's why he was at the party to begin with) so it was easier to reject him.  Jack draws the line at doing stuff with other men, so maybe he still would have told Henry no, but who knows if he had been desperate.

I've seen Jim Parsons in other stuff, so I don't see him as Sheldon, but something about his demeanor and/or his voice makes me not take him seriously when he's telling people he wants to suck their fat cocks or whatever.

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2 minutes ago, janie jones said:

Jack boned some key people at Ace, though.  There was the casting girl that got him through the gate, and Avis.  I can't think of anything specific Avis did for him because of their extracurricular activities, but it certainly can't have hurt.  He already had his foot in the door when Henry propositioned him on the tennis court (that's why he was at the party to begin with) so it was easier to reject him.  Jack draws the line at doing stuff with other men, so maybe he still would have told Henry no, but who knows if he had been desperate.

There is such a weird trend in Ryan Murphy shows where we see the hunky straight guy turn down the sexual advances of another man(or aggressive crush on him by a gay guy), thereby reaffirming into the straight stud's straightness. Glee, Nip/Tuck, and American Horror Story also did this.

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On 5/17/2020 at 2:03 PM, methodwriter85 said:

The general message here seemed to be that gays were so inspired that they gave up their hedonistic lifestyles and settled down with boyfriends because that's what all gays should do. Which, you know, is nice but I kind of felt like there was a bit of condescension going on- that gays have to be secretive and promiscuous because they're ashamed, and if you remove that shame you'll see that all gays really want is to have a husband. Umm, no. 

There might as well have been a postscript that said, "In the end, he didn't die of AIDS, because once he came out, he didn't feel the need to have lots of shameful sex."

On 5/18/2020 at 9:05 AM, blackwing said:

I agree, it was hard to look at him and not see Sheldon.  I've never seen him in anything else, is that his normal regular voice?

Yes. I've seen him in a bunch of projects, and he always sounds like that.

He's a hugely celebrated actor, with 4 Emmys (!), but the man has absolutely zero range. He can only play characters who are effeminate and sharp-tongued. And even within that narrow realm, he's limited - he tried to play Johnny Weir when he hosted SNL, and he was terrible at it.

On 5/18/2020 at 5:21 PM, janie jones said:

Jack boned some key people at Ace, though.  There was the casting girl that got him through the gate, and Avis.  I can't think of anything specific Avis did for him because of their extracurricular activities, but it certainly can't have hurt.

I have to assume that when Avis decided to cast him immediately after seeing him onscreen, it was because he'd screwed her.

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[Jim Parsons is] a hugely celebrated actor, with 4 Emmys (!), but the man has absolutely zero range. He can only play characters who are effeminate and sharp-tongued. And even within that narrow realm, he's limited - he tried to play Johnny Weir when he hosted SNL, and he was terrible at it.

Yes, I saw him in "The Normal Heart" and he was basically the same character as in this series. 

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On 5/15/2020 at 12:53 PM, iMonrey said:

Unless they destroyed the negative they could just make more prints. And if they did destroy the negative the studio isn't going to be able to make more prints to distribute to the theaters.

In fact, other intermediary elements are often used  to preserve a movie, like the interpositive, answer print and internegative; it is that last one which is used to strike the film prints destined for projection in movie theaters, since the original negative was not colour-corrected and is anyway much too fragile to run repeatedly through duplicating equipment, due to all the editing splices. But such details would have overcomplicated the plot and they neeeded an easy cliffhanger.

I was remiss in not mentioning Joe Mantello as one of the actors who did an excellent job throughout. As for JP, after playing Sheldon for so long it’s no wonder this is how his image is burnished in our minds and that the actor has assimilated many of the character’s mannerisms, which anyway came from him initially. I saw him on Broadway in 2015, playing the role of God in An Act of God, and he managed to make us forget his more famous TV role, most of the time. I did not see The Boys in the Band on stage.

On 5/13/2020 at 6:31 PM, SWLinPHX said:

it just seemed like Murphy putting stuff on the screen which he personally enjoys to see (gay men, naked men, his favorite stars, good-looking people, opulent lifestyles, bitchy women, etc.), as if it was made mostly for himself (and maybe a very specific targeted demographic) than for the public as a whole

I think that you were quite clear as to what target audience RM supposedly had in mind ("storylines many typical gay men will drool over and rub their palms together with delight and anticipation"). I saw this as an arbitrary and reductive identification of a "very specific targeted demographic" as you put it, but I do confess to being biased of course, despite not drooling.  😉

Many comments were quite pointedly objecting to the very basic principles of an alternative history fiction, i.e. the rewriting of past events and the use of real-life characters while changing part of their own history. Should that be seen as objecting to the very essence of the alternative history device?

I certainly think so.

These objections are often peppered, as  in several media pieces on the series, with some not necessarily believable scandalized reservations about how some gay or non-Caucasian characters were used and this was tagged as anathema because it allegedly disrespected their experience. Which led to my response that in a work of alternative history, rewriting real-life individuals’ history is difficult to avoid.

But reactions to such approaches do differ. It is to be expected since we all experience a work of fiction differently and react to it according to our various personalities, tastes and sensibilities. Some regular readers of SF are allergic to alternative histories, just as others cannot abide long-winded recursive fantasy series.

As I said earlier I think that RM did not fully realise his ambition, which apparently was to create an optimistic, feel-good, rewrite of some of the less pleasant aspects of the history of the film industry. It looked like he wanted to send a Message, which is always perilous because this can easily overwhelm the narrative and the enjoyment of the work. The fiction itself can also fall short of the big Message intended.

As it stands, I consider the series to be an enjoyable but minor romp in "what-might-have-been" 1940s Hollywood, put together with all of the production values RM has gotten us used to in his other series. I do not think it will make a really memorable mark in TV history, although they might try harder in a possible second season, for which they will have to portray greater challenges and resistance to the movement initiated by the characters in this one who had, on the whole, a rather easy time in achieving their goals of breaking down barriers and prejudice.

Although a fairy-tale over-idealised vision, I did not find it insulting to LGBT and gay history as a whole, nor do I feel it trivialises the past history of my community.

On 5/15/2020 at 10:07 AM, Blakeston said:

it went so far as say in the newsreel that the protests against Meg quickly disappeared because America loved the film so much.

It has happened in the past that protests against plays or movies dissipated in the face of box-office success (and sometimes contributed to it). Which does not mean that the underlying prejudices did not persist in many people.

Edited by Florinaldo
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I’ll join in with those that were disappointed in the writing for this movie. It was so over idealized and one dimensional that I would have expected that it was written by an adolescent who was coming to terms with his sexuality, not by the overhyped Ryan Murphy.  I agree with the assessment that I didn’t believe the Jim Parsons character ( even though he was based on a real person) and his making amends with Rock Hudson and producing a picture with him in the lead didn’t seem genuine. Also, why introduce the character of Phyllis ( his secretary who was briefly married to Rock to dispel rumors of his sexuality) and then not write that into the story. I had heard the story about the gas station and “Ernie” and it didn’t end as happily for him.  The only performances I really enjoyed were Joe Mantella and Dylan McDermott.  I’ve enjoyed reading all the posts on this site - lots of good critical thinking going on here.

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On 5/21/2020 at 9:03 AM, Florinaldo said:

Many comments were quite pointedly objecting to the very basic principles of an alternative history fiction, i.e. the rewriting of past events and the use of real-life characters while changing part of their own history.

Some, but not all. As I previously stated, I love a good alternative history story. Good, being the operative word. This was not that. And I actually enjoyed this series, for the most part . . . right up until the last episode. That's where it really flew off the rails and and dove deep into fantasy too absurd to accept. 

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20 hours ago, iMonrey said:

Some, but not all.

Precisely.

Which is why I wrote "Many comments" and not "All comments".

I also have my own reservations about the final result, although not exactly the same as yours. Few TV shows, plays or movies do not disappoint on at least a few aspects.

Reflecting further about it I wonder it one failing might be that the point of divergence was too minor in scope, and also that it would be of interest only to a rather niche audience, i.e. fans of old movies and people knowledgeable with how Hollywood worked at the time. Some references were rather obscure; how many potential viewers for example would know that Jake was based on a real-life pimp, who did not finish his life as happily as in this work, i.e. accepted into Hollywood society and hobnobbing with stars and producers?

Of course casting a wider net would have complicated the writing and the task of making sure the intended Message of diversity did not get lost in the shuffle.

I still enjoyed it for what it was, but it could have been much more.

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Part of the problem is simply lazy ass writing with no historical connection.

True, actors with poorly recorded voices or heavy thick foreign accents got swept away with the advent of talking pictures.   However supposedly Avis was a silent star who was “ too Jewish” for talkies.    
 

Excuse me?  Every actor with studio backing were given elocution lessons, hell, post-talkies every aspiring actor had to work on smoothing out their regional accents, speaking styles, etc for decades.   Joan Crawford worked endlessly to get rid of her country midwestern twang.    It’s hilarious when you hear now all that mid Atlantic style voices so many actors adapted in the 30’s & 40’s films.

Here’s  the ironic rub; the series actually in an early episode with Holland Taylor shows a room of young Wanna be stars learning the Mid-Atlantic accent.  I guess they weren’t around for Silent Star  Avis.  Again, lazy ass writing.


The smugness was also off putting.  It’s 2020 and there still isn’t an out romantic/action leading man in films.  Where is the openly gay equivalent of a Brad Pitt/Denzel Washington/Tom Cruise/Harrison Ford, etc.     So where does Ryan’s self congratulatory tone come from?

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On 5/10/2020 at 1:17 AM, Cheezwiz said:

It does a disservice to real-life people like Anna May Wong and Hattie McDaniel, who truly had to face obstacles and terrible treatment. I love happy endings, but this felt totally unearned.

And not only them...people like my dad’s cousin, born in 1939, and accepted by his family, but desperately unhappy because he could never publicly say who he was.  I liked the beginning of this series...but then it became a reimagined world in Ryan Murphy land, and the struggles of people to publically be who they are, or to be equal with everyone else,  were fixed by one movie.  Ugh.

 

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On 6/3/2020 at 3:02 PM, caracas1914 said:

It’s 2020 and there still isn’t an out romantic/action leading man in films.  Where is the openly gay equivalent of a Brad Pitt/Denzel Washington/Tom Cruise/Harrison Ford, etc.     So where does Ryan’s self congratulatory tone come from?

It's happening in TV (Neil Patrick Harris) but we still have Jeremy Renner and Richard Madden with their respective "roommates." Is there anyone here who doesn't think that Matthew Bomer would probably be leading a movie franchise right now if he hadn't come out?

Edited by methodwriter85
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16 hours ago, methodwriter85 said:

t's happening in TV (Neil Patrick Harris) but we still have Jeremy Renner and Richard Madden with their respective "roommates."

Yes, there are isolated examples, but it will be a slow process.

That being said, Ryan Murphy does not have to answer to the fact that there are so few out lead actors; he is not responsible for what every other casting agent, production company or studio does in Hollywood. So he can indeed be happy and satisfied with what he does, and be all gushing and praiseworthy to his writers, cast and crew for their achievement, even with the work's shortcomings. 

He's only accountable for his work and the portion of his field that he can have an effect on or can change on his own, not for what all others do and how slow the industry as whole changes in spite of small individual pushes in the right direction.

Edited by Florinaldo

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5 hours ago, Florinaldo said:

Yes, there are isolated examples, but it will be a slow process.

That being said, Ryan Murphy does not have to answer to the fact that there are so few out lead actors; he is not responsible for what every other casting agent, production company or studio does in Hollywood. So he can indeed be happy and satisfied with what he does, and be all gushing and praiseworthy to his writers, cast and crew for their achievement, even with the work's shortcomings. 

He's only accountable for his work and the portion of his field that he can have an effect on or can change on his own, not for what all others do and how slow the industry as whole changes in spite of small individual pushes in the right direction.

Nobody is saying Ryan's responsible for everything out there.    However he is responsible for a badly written , embarrassingly self congratulatory TV series whose premise is insulting on different levels.    Ryan is this decade's Stanley Kramer, who made "well intentioned" liberal movies that for the most part were just bad movies...

20 hours ago, methodwriter85 said:

It's happening in TV (Neil Patrick Harris) but we still have Jeremy Renner and Richard Madden with their respective "roommates." Is there anyone here who doesn't think that Matthew Bomer would probably be leading a movie franchise right now if he hadn't come out?

Neil Patrick already was starring as  Barney, the womanizing character of "HIMYM" when he came out publicly.   Would he have snagged the role otherwise, who knows?

Whether Richard Madden, Jeremy Renner, etc, etc is  gay or not (I have no idea) shouldn't be relevant,  but it seems to be as far as roles offered for romantic or action leading men in movies.   So even today, there is a wall or ceiling. 

Alternative history fiction works best when you could imagine how it might have happened if incidents X, Y or Z had occurred.     That's where Hollywood fails miserably because it's not even plausible within the context of it's own storyline.

Edited by caracas1914
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This was a self indulgent, wish fulfillment series and while it took a lot of creative liberties, I still enjoyed the hell out of it.

I do think this finale indulged big time in the schmaltzy of ways especially with the Awards ceremony but it was fine enough.

I did like Archie and Rock together throughout the series. I also wished we had seen more of Dick and John before the former died.

Jack and Claire, they sped up the romance but again it worked like Ellen and Ernie did as well. 

Avis really did commit to diversity with standing by Raymond, Camille and Archie but I wished we had seen more of Anna May and Hattie in the series.

Overall a strong ending but this doesn't need to be brought back for a second season, 8/10

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I just finished the series -- so some of these comments might be more for the series overall than this particular episode.  It really ended up being largely the older white adults who made things possible where the younger actors were often just shown nodding and smiling.  The kids in many of the scenes seemed like they were channeling Judy and Micky and were eager to put on a show in the barn as they grinned at each other.

I liked the concept, although it might have been a little too fantasy and idealized at the end.  And yes, I am guessing it could come off a bit patronizing in a kind of here is a white man's view of how things should be.

I did not necessarily think the younger actors were bad, but they were all completely blown out of the water by almost all of the veteran actors.  As much as Lupone can chew scenery - she can have some nice quiet moments.  It was nice to see Holland Taylor play a kinder, gentler person compared to her normal persona (which she has done well since Bosom Buddies and Romancing the Stone).  It might have been the best acting I have seen from Dylan.  I did not find any problems with Parson's performance (but yes, there always a bit of Sheldon in his performances), but the character really was horrible.  I agree his turnaround seemed false.  I kind of thought after Rock told him off and what an empty life he had that he might actually throw himself off the Hollywood sign at the end and commit suicide.

Again, I did not think the younger actors were not bad, but certainly not good enough where you watched their screen tests etc. and think - yes that is an acting moment that is Oscar worthy.  Camille was pretty but I never saw any layers in her Meg performance, she just looked sad.  She might have been the blandest of all the actors.  Claire was the least used, and she showed a lot more in some of her moments than Camille.    I thought Jack and Rock improved as the series went on, but it does seem like Rock should have had a bit more charisma that hinted at what he was capable of doing.  Archie might gotten worse as the series continued.   I thought he had the most charisma at first, but then his acting got hammier in the later episodes.  Criss, nothing horrible about his performance, but did not buy him as a director who had what it takes to bulldoze this through skeptical studio heads.

While I think the intentions were good, it might have been more effective to either do a story about Hattie or Anna Wong (or Lena Horne etc) and show the real story about what they went through in old Hollywood.  Also, if they do one of these stories, make sure you hire an actress who can show some complexity and subtext and has some real acting chops.

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On 6/17/2020 at 4:55 PM, caracas1914 said:

Nobody is saying Ryan's responsible for everything out there.

Then we agree despite your previous comment which said the following:

On 6/3/2020 at 3:02 PM, caracas1914 said:

It’s 2020 and there still isn’t an out romantic/action leading man in films.  Where is the openly gay equivalent of a Brad Pitt/Denzel Washington/Tom Cruise/Harrison Ford, etc.     So where does Ryan’s self congratulatory tone come from?

That wording implied a burden of responsibility on RM with regards to the present situation as a whole, which meant he should not express satisfaction with what he has made because the industry overall has not passed a certain milestone.

It is standard for people to be positive about their work and realisations, and to gloss over the shortcomings (and this series has a few as I and others have mentioned in other postings), especially if they are marketing a newly released project to attract viewers or buyers. The job of tearing a work apart and dissecting its achievements to expose the failings is our domain on these boards.  😉

On 6/17/2020 at 4:55 PM, caracas1914 said:

Alternative history fiction works best when you could imagine how it might have happened if incidents X, Y or Z had occurred. 

Which is exactly what they did here, although the point of divergence was rather small and focused, posited on the existence a few forward-looking individuals well in advance on their times. Anyone familiar with the genre and practice af alternate fiction can attest that it covers a wider spectrum, from historical differences that range from history-upheaving and earth-shatterring, to some on a much smaller scale. Deciding if the divergence was enough to be intellectually satisfying and if the final product is of sufficient quality is of course a matter of personal preference and appreciation, in which there will also be wide variations because of personal affinities. For example, I like some alternate histories but I grew tired a long time ago of the Harry Turtledove type, which I find formulaic and repetitive.

On 6/17/2020 at 4:55 PM, caracas1914 said:

Ryan is this decade's Stanley Kramer

Stanley Kramer? He of the ponderous Significant Movies, with a few lumbering divertissements like Mad, Mad World thrown in? That is a harsh and cruel comparison.

I find RM's output to be on the whole more enjoyable and satysfying as a viewing experience, with some exceptions, than plodding stuffed turkeys like Judgement at Nuremberg, On the Beach or The Defiant Ones. One notable difference between the two may be that RM often aims to deliver a Message, while SK wanted to send MESSAGES!!!

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On 5/16/2020 at 9:17 AM, SeanC said:

I don't think so.  Minority groups were campaigning for civil rights all through this period, the biggest difference is how much those in power opted to listen.

 

Blacks protested vehemently when "The birth of a nation" came out in 1915, glorifying the KKK  and when "Gone with the Wind" was released in 1939 with it's idealized antebellum South.    The irony is that GWTW the movie actually toned down the far more racist aspects of Margaret Mitchell's book.    It didn't' mention the KKK by name, for example.

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Like others, I primarily enjoyed the acting of Holland Taylor, Joe Mantello, and Patti Lupone. Well, and whoever played the senior editor in the last two episodes—I want to see a series with that character as the lead! Jeremy Pope impressed me the most of the young actors, and Samara Weaving kept deepening her initially stereotyped performance until it was fairly rich by the end. I think David Corwenset can act well enough, though his character Jack joined Laura Harrier's Claire in failing to demonstrate any real depth or charisma that would have audiences going ga-ga over them. (Also, Jack was the laziest, whiniest crybaby of a WWII veteran I've ever seen depicted on film—the Greatest Generation my ass! Did he survive the war by breaking down and sobbing about how it wasn't fair until German soldiers decided he was too pathetic to bother shooting?) Jake Picking was horribly miscast and never once managed to rise above the awful writing for his character. I'd advise him to try modeling rather than acting.

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