The Last Tycoon
TV Series Review
Pat Brady, owner of Hollywood's struggling Brady American Studios, turns to his daughter, Celia, who's just dipping her toes into the movie lot's inner workings.
"Please," Pat pleads. "Please. Find another business."
"There is no other business," she says.
Pat sighs. "I know," he says.
In Hollywood, there is indeed no other business—not any business worth discussing in The Last Tycoon, that is. Amazon's newest original show takes us behind the Golden Age of the silver screen and examines the iron, granite and flesh on which it's all built.
Boulevard of Broken Promises
Monroe Stahr—Brady American's young, dashing wunderkind producer—abides at the heart of Tycoon. "Ordinary is the enemy," he says. And indeed Monroe has a knack for making his pictures extraordinary: He knows just the right stars to cast, the right writers to fix the script, the right sweeteners to offer rival studio heads for a favor or two. He's a little like Mad Men's Don Draper. But Monroe deals in celluloid instead of glossy mags, a golden boy tanning under the golden sun.
But polished perfection does not a great movie (or TV show) make. And behind Monroe's charming façade lurks plenty of dramatic tension.
There are scripts to fix and stars to fire, naturally; that never stops. Monroe and Mr. Brady work closely with each other, but they clash mightily, too—especially when Pat tries to prove his mettle as a producer and messes with Monroe's polished gems. (It might not help that Monroe's been known to sleep with the boss's wife.) Monroe's latest love interest, Kathleen Moore, is a movie star in the making. But, frankly, she'd rather just be a waitress. The studio's hard up for cash, too—and the only folks willing to loan Brady American Studios the moolah to make movies just happen to live in Germany. Nazi Germany.
Oh, and then there's Celia, prancing around the studio, preening for Monroe and making all sorts of trouble—not to mention making friends with some would-be unionists who just might speed the studio's sinking.
Tripping on the Light Fantastic
The Last Tycoon is Amazon's latest bid to keep up with Netflix in the world of streaming prestige TV. And on paper, at least, it doesn't get more prestigious than F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Last Tycoon was Fitzgerald's last novel, and it was unfinished when the writer died at age 44. To that literary pedigree, Amazon added a troupe of well-known actors, including Lily Collins (Celia), Matt Bomer (Monroe) and multi-Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer (Pat).
'Course, when you're basing a whole television series on an unfinished work—particularly one that Amazon would like to presumably milk for several seasons—that leaves a lot of room for, ahem, embellishment. And Tycoon's makers don't hesitate.
I haven't read Fitzgerald's Tycoon, but I am familiar with the author and the time period in which he wrote. It seems unlikely that he would've written about a lesbian threesome, as we see in the Amazon show filled with explicit nudity and sexual activity. The worlds that Fitzgerald wrote about were certainly not free of illicit love, but I question they would've been stated as frankly, or filmed as explicitly, as they are here. As for the language … well, again, it seems unlikely that F. Scott would've unleashed a barrage of f- and s- and even c-words at his readers.
In our current climate of salty, sultry television, everything is relative, of course. Aesthetically, The Last Tycoon is not as good as some shows. Content-wise, it's not the worst.
That said, I don't think F. Scott Fitzgerald would have approved of it.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr; Kelsey Grammer as Pat Brady; Lily Collins as Celia Brady; Dominique McElligott as Kathleen Moore; Enzo Cilenti as Aubrey Hackett; Koen De Bouw as Tomas Szep; Mark O'Brien as Max Miner; Rosemarie DeWitt as Rose Brady