'Hollywood' Episode 3 Review: Amidst bullying and coercion, will Jack beat Rock, or will Camille make history?
A straight white man against a closeted actor, and an African American actress pitted against the film studio boss' own daughter: who wins?
Spoilers for 'Hollywood' Episode 3
Walking into the third episode of Ryan Murphy's vision of 'Hollywood' of the 40s, the rat race is all set up: it's Jack Castello versus Rock Hudson, and on the other hand, Camille Washington against Clair Woods. Who will be the star cast of 'Peg' - the movie on the infamous tragedy of British actress Peg Entwillse, who jumped to her death from the giant H of the iconic Hollywood sign that shines proud and mighty in the LA hills. But before the winners triumph and the loser brood, there is a war going on - both external and internal. there's the constant bullying from superiors - be it agents or parents, and then there is the battle within to accept one's own self and stand up for what's right while bagging that glorious dream they are all fighting for.
The rat race begins with Jack's ties to the core ACE STudios committee; he has weaseled his way through some audible sex with the casting agent, and of course, the studio boss's wife, Avis (Patty LuPone), so of course he is spotted by Ellen Kinkaid (Holland Taylor) who for some reason sees the spirit behind the pretty face and evident lack of talent. Ellen gives Jack all the encouragement needed to make himself the lead of 'Peg' even without a vulturous agent like Henry Wilson (Jim Parsons) - something that parallels the movie's director Raymond Ainsley's faith in his black girlfriend Camille wanting the lead of 'Peg'.
When she is outright refused for the role, Camille proposes to Jack a film about Meg - the same tragic story but reimagined with a black actress. She later apologized for trying to 'manipulate' him by proposing the idea during some crazy hot lovemaking, but Raymond knows what's a gem and what's all talk but no talent. He sees Camille's potential the way Ellen sees Jack's and in the end, gladly refuses to direct the film if Camille is not cast as the lead. It would have been a strong statement nobody could have denied, provided they knew that Claire is actually the studio boss' daughter with her name changed for obvious reasons.
But while one would think it was to avoid unnecessary attention or rumors of bias and favor, Claire most likely keeps her identity hidden because her parents force her to. Avis and Ace Amberg couldn't be worse parents; cheating on each other being the least of their dysfunctional traits. They bully their daughter over the dinner table and blatantly tell her she has absolutely zero talent to actually bag a role. But when she proposes to audition, they approve just so she can see for herself what a disaster she is. It almost makes one feel sorry for the snide bitchy queen bee who is probably racist to the core as is obvious from her behavior towards Camille.
Claire, however, isn't the only one suffering under active bullying from a superior because Rock Hudson - given the acclaimed and famed star he was in real life, on the show is actually his agent Henry Willson's puppet. Henry treats Rock worse than a doormat, controlling his every mood at flashy Hollywood sexcapades and forcing him to even go on a little rendezvous with casting directors and the likes purely for his own benefit. Constantly threatening to fire him and speaking to him in tones absolutely unacceptable for a professional relationship, the condescending and snooty Henry breaks only when Jack refuses to let him perform oral sex on him. And Henry coming around to act a saner, more understanding, even though a relief for Rock, proves to make things a little more difficult for Jack. If Henry had fired rock indeed, Jack would have had his privileged shot to fame, but now he must compete with the closeted aspiring actor who won't give up easily on the game. Claire too might have a hurdle after all on her path to easy fame as both Ellen and Dick want to give Camille a shot just to piss of their good-for-nothing studio boss, after listening to Raymond's conditions. Who gets to the top? Only time will tell.
'Hollywood' premiered with all seven episodes on May 1, only on Netflix.