Burn It Down

Burn It Down by Maureen Ryan

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Burn It Down:

Mo already lit the match.

Quick synopsis:

A look at the dysfunction of Hollywood and how to fix it.

Fact for Non-History People:

Female movie stars earnings increase until age 34 and then drop like a rock. Male movie stars peak around 51 and then stay steady after that.

Fact for History Nerds:

There really are a lot more shows. In 2009, there were 210 scripted series. In 2022, it was 599.

My Take on Burn It Down:

Maureen Ryan had me at Killjoys. If you have not seen the wonderfully ridiculous sci-fi show, then please do so once this review is finished. While this seems like a weird reason to be won over by a book, it makes perfect sense when you think about it. A book about burning down the Hollywood system would be an absolute slog if the person approached it from a place of anger. As soon as Ryan mentioned Killjoys, I knew she actually loved what Hollywood puts out. She just hates what it takes to get things made.

For anyone who reads the description of Burn It Down, you may initially think this is going to be another long list of terrible events within the Hollywood system. You may also be the type who doesn’t want to read about someone’s “agenda.” What I would tell you is that this is an in-depth look by someone who has spent significant time around show business, made the connections necessary to build a massive narrative, and then created a viewpoint which is not a witch hunt but a search for institutional change. This book is not about crucifying white men. It is about crucifying a system which routinely rewards bad behavior by giving people power they do not wield benevolently.

Guess what else this book has? Numbers! Yes, it is not all anecdotes of terrible behavior. There are numbers which bear out what Ryan is trying to say. And then, the coup de grace. A plan. Ryan has a plan with articulated ways to fix the system. I came for the gory details. I stayed for the well thought out action plan.

However, all of this could have been a much different book without Ryan’s love for what Hollywood puts out. There are not many books where the author lets you know which Muppet she most identifies with. I won’t spoil it. It’s too good. You should definitely read this book and find out, though.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Mariner Books.)


It’s a must read for everyone who has ever watched a TV show or movie. Which is everyone. Buy it here!

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