The Get Down, Netflix
“It’s about music man. Music is the only reason. It’ll move you forward and open up doors that everyone says are shut. It’ll give you the whole f****** world for free if you just love it and hold back nothing.” -Grandmaster Flash (Mamoudou Athie)
In a colorful explosion ‘The Get Down’, produced by Netflix, projects the two most powerful and pure forces on Earth: love and music. The cinematography, in classic director Baz Luhrmann’s style, is the perfect fit for the legendary themes of the eight part series. ‘The Get Down’ grabs the audience with the lost emotion of life in 1977 Bronx, NY through disco, hip hop, and love.
A young poet, Ezekiel “Zeke” (Justice Smith), is hopelessly in love with the beautiful and talented Mylene (Herizen F. Guardiola), who has her sights set solely on getting out of the Bronx through her rich and powerful singing voice. While Mylene is reaching to become a disco queen, Zeke is introduced to The Get Down, an underground music scene which was the origins of east coast hip hop. Through his newly found Get Down guide, Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), a novice DJ, part time drug hussler and infamous Bronx graffiti artist, Zeke finally finds a place for his poetry in the form of rap.
Zeke and Mylene’s teenage love battles it out in the midst of 1977, which hosted the hottest summer New York City had ever seen and the premier of “Star Wars: A New Hope.” It was also the summer of a city wide blackout lasting over 24 hours, and due to political unrest and a failing economy led to mass vandalism, robbery and arson, especially in the Bronx. ‘The Get Down’ successfully integrates the historical circumstances of the time and location in which the plot occurs by having context move much of the story forward in all aspects. whether it be music or politics.
Besides the excellent use of background to give the story life, Lehrmann and fellow creator Stephen Adly Guirgis have picked a host of vibrant characters, whose pure emotion, humor and individual struggles digs deep into the viewers. The only flaw in the show is that a select few characters are really given a chance to shine. Shaolin Fantastic, for instance, with his myriad of “hobbies” has a backstory begging to be uncovered. Zeke’s friend Dizzy (Jaden Smith), who’s artsy, dreamy personality stand out against the realism of his surroundings, is completely looked over save for one episode where he *SPOILER* plays the token LGBTQ+ character. Most of the characters are very limited to only supporting what sometimes feels like the Zeke/Mylene Show, which is disappointing considering there’s so much going on in the story that has the potential to be explored.
An important thing to remember about ‘The Get Down’ is that it’s over the top. Those of you out there looking for a drama with even an ounce of realism, this is not the show for you. Lehrmann and Guigis go all out with the suspense to portray themes of love, power and passion in their most authentic form. So for viewers who appreciate frequent disco ballads and free style rapping played over montages of graffitied skylines, the show is worth watching.
The climactic tone of ‘The Get Down’ is shown in the words of failed record producer Jackie Moreno (Kevin Corrigan) when he addresses the naive Mylene, “The world’s dying of a thousand heart attacks. We heal them up three minutes at a time. It’s a God d*** public service what we do. That’s the only reason to make music. You can’t make music like that with doubts. You gotta know.”