Netflix's The Get Down is the summer jam we've been waiting for
The Get Down, created and directed by Baz Luhrmann, is a colorful, fast-paced and tuneful romp through a 1970’s tough Bronx neighborhood during the birth of hip-hop in the heady, crazy days of New York City’s wild recent past.
Flavored with the graffiti on trains, walls and subways so prevalent in that era, the series lives up to the hype. It’s a terrific take on the musical hip-hop and disco worlds of that era and is well worth your time.
The series creator and director, Baz Luhrmann, also did Romeo and Juliet (1996), Moulin Rouge! (2001) and The Great Gatsby (2013). This series has a similarly rich, colorful and fast-paced musical style. You either love his style or hate it; I personally enjoy it. OK, so we’re actually watching an hour-long music video with dialogue, but I don’t care. I dig it.
Justice Smith is excellent as the tormented artist Ezekiel, who loves Mylene (played by the outstanding newcomer Herizen Guardiola), but Mylene has a strict preacher father who won’t hear of her singing anything other than church music and is dedicated to her career and won’t let love interfere with her ambitions. Both actors are accomplished singers too, particularly Ms. Guardiola, whose soaring vocals enrich and dazzle the production.
Other casting tidbits: Jaden Smith, Will Smith’s talented young son, plays Marcus Kipling in the series, a poetic and gifted graffiti artist. Jaden is very good, as usual. Jimmy Smits (remember him from NYPD Blue?) is outstanding and nearly unrecognizable as Francisco Cruz, Mylene’s uncle, who is in the music business too and tries to help her deal with her controlling, conservative father.
The first six episodes were released August 12, 2016, on Netflix. The first episode was one and a half hours long; the other five are an hour in length. You can watch all six episodes at once or savor them one at a time, like I am. But you’ll have to wait until sometime in 2017 for the next six episodes of the first season. Netflix usually releases all episodes at once for their series, but in this case, the second set is definitely worth the wait.
Nas, the mega-talented hip-hop musician and producer, was executive producer on the series. You can sense his influence throughout. You can also buy the outstanding soundtrack exclusively on iTunes, also released on August 12, 2016. It features Christina Aguilera’s soaring “Telepathy,” Jaden Smith’s “Losing Your Mind” and many other delicious songs from the series. The soundtrack is a delightful mixture of hip-hop, disco and R&B songs that will rock any party. And The Get Down is a most enjoyable series that will carry you through the dog days of summer on a song.