NEW YORK (CNS) -- A revisionist history of Tinseltown in the late 1940s is served up in "Hollywood," a new soap opera that manages to be both stylish and trashy at the same time. The seven-episode miniseries is streaming now on Netflix.

Co-creators and co-writers Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan have reimagined the golden age of moviemaking in lavish detail. Production values aside, their main focus is to expose their version of the seamy underbelly of Hollywood, where racism and anti-Semitism are rampant, and a homosexual subculture forces young actors to prostitute themselves to get noticed.

"Hollywood" is steeped in graphic sex acts, full-frontal nudity, drug use and profane and crude language. Much of this is gratuitous and serves to advance a story line of doubtful historical accuracy, despite cameo appearances by real-life acting royalty such as Vivien Leigh (Katie McGuinness) and Tallulah Bankhead (Paget Brewster).

"Hollywood" initially focuses on a fictional character, Jack Costello (David Corenswet), who's freshly discharged from the Army and determined to be a movie star. Despite matinee-idol looks, Jack is passed over at daily casting calls.

Desperate to provide for his wife, Henrietta (Maude Apatow), who is expecting twins, Jack reluctantly accepts an offer from gas-station owner Ernie (Dylan McDermott) to service some of his customers sexually.

This is how Jack meets his future patron, Avis (Patti LuPone), the unhappy spouse of the head of Ace Studios, Ace Amberg (Rob Reiner).

Meanwhile, a talented African-American writer, Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope), submits a screenplay to Ace Studios. In doing so, Archie conceals the two strikes against him: his race and his homosexuality. Jack recruits Archie to "work" at the gas station.

Archie's boyfriend is a wannabe actor named Roy Fitzgerald (Jake Picking). Despite a profound lack of talent, Roy catches the eye of real-life agent Henry Willson (Jim Parsons), who agrees to represent him in return for sexual favors. He also gives him a new name: Rock Hudson.

Lastly, there is young director Raymond Ainsley (Darren Criss). He persuades Ace Studios to let him direct Archie's screenplay. Its plot is based on the true story of Peg Entwhistle, a young British actress who in desperation jumped to her death in 1932 from the top of the "Hollywoodland" sign (as the iconic landmark then read).

The script, entitled "Peg," is a parable about the unfulfilled dreams of actors and the abject cruelty of the studio system. Raymond decides the movie could be a star vehicle for his African-American girlfriend, Camille Washington (Laura Harrier). Archie reworks the screenplay as "Meg," with the heroine an aspiring actress from Mississippi.

"Movies don't just show us how the world is," Raymond says. "Movies show us how the world can be."

"Hollywood" contains several references to the Hays Code, the precursor of the modern film ratings system. Drawn up with the influence of Catholic clergy and adopted by the studios in 1930, the Hays Code was a form of self-censorship aimed at avoiding the effects of scandal at the box office.

The overall anti-discrimination message of the series is laudable. But it's drowned out under a tsunami of objectionable elements. Indeed, the sexual morality of "Hollywood," like its wanton blending of reality and fiction, can best be summed up by the title of a classic song penned by another patron of Ernie's gas station, Cole Porter (Darren Richardson): "Anything Goes."

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McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.