Fame in the city of Los Angeles, it is basically the premise of thousands of films, and the basis for even more stories of successful musicians, directors, actors, and even writers. These stories are also the inspiration for many to go to the city of angels and try to become a name. Someone that can be known by everyone, everywhere, someone that can be on television, the internet, and in huge billboards.
The case of Angelyne is of particular interest, because it could be said that she became the first celebrity that was famous for being famous. Angelyne is of course a model, a singer, an artist in every sense of the world. But people know her not because of her art, but because of her own image. They know her for how she spread her image through the whole city and in later years, she would be famous for representing being famous. Angelyne, is in true form, the definition of an icon.
Who is Angelyne? For many years the answer to that question was a secret as the woman behind the icon enjoyed the fact that while everybody knew her, no one really did. Angelyne kept her private life private, and even her real name was secret for the public. She kept it that way until 2017 when the Hollywood Reporter did an exposé on her then all truth came to light. But what happens to a secret when it is not a secret anymore? The new miniseries Angelyne, that debuts all five episodes of its season on Peacock tries to answer all these questions and more.
Angelyne is a show developed by Nancy Oliver, and start Emmy Rossum in the role of the title character, Hamish Linklater, and Lukas Gage. The show takes on a journey through the decades as we meet Angelyne, a mysterious woman who begins a series of massive billboard campaigns in the city of Los Angeles. The campaign makes her famous instantly, and her rises to such a level that she even becomes a staple of the city. However, the real human behind the billboards remains a mystery.
Emmy Rossum has been one of those actors that has had a very eclectic career to say the least. She never really became a movie star, as most of her effort in that side of the Hollywood business were small indie flicks and also a bunch of box office bombs. However, Rossum manages to become one of the best regarded actresses of her generation thanks to her role as Fiona Gallagher in the TV show Shameless. There Rossum proved that she was beyond just a pretty face.
Now, Shameless is over so Rossum keeps pushing the envelope and comes with a show about one of the most enigmatic figures that has ever walked through the city of Los Angeles, and guess what? Rossum pulls it off almost effortlessly. The role of Angelyne is a very complicated one as there is actually very little in terms of knowing the real person, at least not enough to create a biopic about her.
This challenge seems to be the things that attracted Rossum to the project. The chance to create Angelyne the character in a way that people has never seen her before. Rossum really goes deep, and maybe it is all created for the show, maybe the version of Angelyne that Rossum shows us in here is just a creation of her imagination. It doesn’t matter, because it is really an interesting version of her. It is Rossum and her acting ability, the factor that carries the show throughout its five episodes.
This is not to say that she is the only good thing about the show, far from it, but she is the best thing and the most consistent. Oliver and her team of filmmakers on the other hand have a lot of ambition, a lot of ideas, and a lot of creative output, and they want you to see it all. It is quite commendable to see filmmakers that go for the big swings, but here they feel like there might be a bit too much of them.
Each episode feels like a self-contained story, but at the same time the show jumps back and forth in time, maybe too many times. There is also this mockumentary style that sometimes feels completely out of place, and there is this seems of parody coming sometimes from each line being delivered by the actors. The sense of structure on a narrative level feels off, and it makes the show miniseries feel disjointed.
However, as the closing two episodes arrive, the themes of the show become more and more important and as the show ends, it is evident that the show nails everything at a thematic level. It does it at such a level that it feels really satisfying seeing the closing minutes of episode five. A great ending is really significant no matter if you are doing a show, a movie, or a book. Nevertheless, the road to get to that ending feels a bit all over the place.
On a technical level, the production is top quality. Cinematography, sets, costumes, all the departments are working together to sell this illusion of Los Angeles, this vision of a city that sits between the real and the fake. It is sometimes as if we were looking into the mirror to another universe, and that feeling just does amazing things for Angelyne as a character, and to the show, as a study of such a character.
Angelyne is directed to a very specific type of audience. Its mainstream appeal doesn’t seem too big, but if you have a bit of curiosity about the Angelyne’s case, or you love celebrity culture, then this show it is for you. There is nothing better to learn about fame and celebrity than to follow the person who defined it.