Last Friday, August 12th Netflix dropped part 1 of The Get Down of the anticipated series co-created by Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis. Set in the late 1970s in the South Bronx, the storyline centers on a teenage boy named Ezekiel (Justice Smith) with raw talent for poetry and a desire to pursue music. He and his friends band together to chase their musical dream and create an innovative sound. As they jam together, they discover and combine each of their talents. With practice new music emerges incorporating raping, singing and writing as well as a DJ which create the groups unique style.
An ode to New York the show never the less explores political and social issues including racial profiling, discrimination, sexism and power. The show explores the explosion of disco music and the tensions that arise with the Church notably. This issue is shown through Mylene (Herizen F. Guardiola) a young girl with big disco dreams and an amazing voice who is fiercely discouraged to pursue her passion by her father Pastor Ramon Cruz (Giancarlo Esposito). On the other hand, her uncle Francisco ‘Papa Fuerte’ Cruz brilliantly played by Jimmy Smits cherishes his niece’s dream and helps her become a recording artist. He also plays an important role in the community and believes that South Bronx can become a proud city and that poverty will be addressed.
As soon as you start watching the show you can recognize Baz Luhrmann’s signature, there is great attention to detail and esthetic, especially for the settings and colors used for the lighting and the wardrobe. The visuals feature sometimes grainy film and clips from that period such as news reports. I also found it interesting that street art was explored and showcased mainly through Jayden Smith’s character “Dizzee”.
The Get Down is for music lovers especially of soul, disco and hip-hop. It feels true to the 1970s, the costumes and the music are groovy and fitting of the times. The show is a drama and a musical. It’s music history with an uplifting as well as at times harsh plotlines. This demonstrates how New York grows and how the Bronx is changing drastically at that time. The last two episodes are particularly good as the drama builds and Ezekiel and the boys get ready for a DJ battle and Mylene gets her first on-stage performance.
The soundtrack alone makes The Get Down worth watching as it is incredible featuring both classic and contemporary artists from Donna Summers to Christina Aguilera. Herizen Guardiola’s vocals are also exceptional, a great discovery higlighted by the song “Set Me Free”.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, get a glimpse by watching the main trailer.