Episode 5 of Hollywood begins with Avis making her decision and deciding Meg is the film they’re going to produce, casting Camille in the lead role. Claire arrives at the studio and tells Avis she made the right decision and that she’s proud of her, prompting Avis to cast her in a supporting female role alongside Camille.
With the two actors now the talk of the town, both Camille and Jack do photographs while the studio heads talk about the issues they’re about to face in the wake of this. Alabama pulls their current picture and now needing to do things on the cheap, Avis decides they should bring people in locally to fill the roles, including a returning Anna Wong back on the cast.
Rock meanwhile quickly gets over his disappointment about not getting the role, instead learning from Archie that he’s got another minor role as a gas station attendant on the film. When he visits Henry to talk about the good news, Henry instead takes him to the dentist to sort his teeth out.
Dick leads the team with budget cuts and Ellen takes a fancy to him, prompting Avis to encourage her to ask him out.
The script reading goes ahead without a hitch and everyone patches up any ensuing tension in the wake of the rehearsals for parts. The iconic tragic ending to Peg is changed completely thanks to Dick and Archie, who decide that her getting down from the sign and living happily ever after is a better finish for the film.
Jack’s past comes back to haunt him though as his mug shot from jail ends up in the hands of a reporter called Dean. This inevitably brings Henry back on the scene where he organizes a hit squad to beat him to a pulp in order to avoid pictures of Jack and Avis circulating. In exchange, Henry weasels his way into being a Producer.
The budget issues with the set prompt Dick to tell Raymond he needs to come up with the money himself, which leads him to Archie and the others to help cough up the funds. Dick meanwhile rejects Ellen and breaks down sobbing outside before heading to a local bar to drown his sorrows in alcohol.
Jack heads home and learns his wife has been seeing a guy called Erwin. Even worse, his children aren’t actually his; they’re Erwin’s. Jack walks out on her and immediately heads to Archie’s, asking to sleep on the sofa which is where the episode ends.
The biggest problem with Hollywood alongside the changed ending to Meg (which we’ll get to) is the way the show lacks any sort of dramatic tension. Any of the obstacles our characters face are overcome as quickly as they arrive. There’s just so many coincidences and bouts of luck for our main cast that it destroys any illusion of struggle they may be facing.
The dynamic between Claire and her Mother could have been an interesting avenue to explore, as could the conflicted feelings Jack has between loyalty to his family and career in the wake of his children being born. Adding a sordid affair and that the kids aren’t his just feels way too convenient given what we’ve seen so far. As an example, it takes 7 minutes to wrap up Jack’s mugshot sub-plot here too after it’s presented as an issue, and these little road bumps have been sprinkled throughout the series.
Even more questionable though is the changed ending to Meg. As a tragedy, the film works to show the horrors of Hollywood and prop itself up as a thought provoking piece about the sacrifice one must make for greatness. Seeing this changed in favour of a happy ending feels like it’s betraying the whole theme of the picture, even if it does ironically coincide with the neat, hollywood-esque bow on this one.