Netflix has recently been rapidly devising successful shows, from Orange is the New Black to Stranger Things, one of the most hyped-about shows in 2016. However, with the triumph these shows have been gaining, some Netflix Originals have become overlooked, and shamefully so.
In August of 2016, Netflix launched a series created by Stephen Adly Guirgis and Baz Luhrmann, the director of Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby, called The Get Down.
The series takes place in the Bronx during the 1970’s and explores diversity during a time period where hip-hop and disco music is on the rise and influences the lives of six featured teenagers - Shao, Zeke, Ra, Dizzee, Mylene, and Boo Boo. The show depicts era-typical poverty, violence, and the Black and Latinx communities. The show debuted with part one of the first season - a total of six episodes. However, on April 7, 2017, five more episodes, or part two, was released. Yet, The Get Down is still continuing to be slept on.
Why? One of the main reasons is the bad advertisement on behalf of Netflix. The Get Down was also advertised for a very short period, mostly just the day that it came out on. How are people to learn about it if they don’t go on Netflix the one day that actually was advertised on?
Another reason is racism against a mostly POC show. Hypothetically, if the show was about a bunch of white main characters coming to terms with their sexualities and their struggle with poverty, it would be one of the top trending shows in 2017. Just like how the main characters for Stranger Things and Thirteen Reasons Why were.
Twitter seems to be obsessing over the latter two shows, and although they are great in their own perspectives, they are almost overhyped. Some of these same people who infatuate over those shows are also complaining about the lack of diversity in mainstream shows and bad representation. However, The Get Down, which, with its fresh faces, has a cast filled with people of color at around 90%. The lack of white people, even though unusual for television, is historically accurate and gives the show more pizazz.
It also has LGBT representation, shows strong female empowerment and relationships, and has some good music on top. The show is so critical because of its diversity and the fact that it doesn’t sugarcoat the harsh realities of life. It showcases the struggles of becoming a new artist, and the overall struggle of navigating the music world. The main character the show focuses on is Ezekiel Figuero, an orphan living with his aunt after his parent’s tragic deaths. He has an arcane way with words, and although he doesn’t know what to do with it, he pines over the talent driven and confident Mylene Cruz.
Mylene Cruz is the embodiment of female empowerment. She puts her career first, not any relationship, because she wants to be the next Misty Holloway (a made up but extremely famous character). Mylene is determined to become a star while battling with her conservative religious father, who doesn’t permit disco, the sole genre she wants to dominate in, in his household.
Cue Shaolin Fantastic, an aspiring DJ during a time where disco is the predominant genre. He guides Ezekiel into a career of rap, and although he handles situations acrimoniously, he is still just a kid learning in life and doing the best he can. Shao, was launched into deals with drugs and working for Fat Annie, the owner of Les Inferno and his boss.
Jaden Smith, who plays Dizzee, portrays a lackadaisical boy consumed with artistic creativity and love for graffiti. His character is similar to his personality in real life, but he does it so effortlessly that he brings Dizzee to the limelight.
If the plot isn’t engaging enough, Baz Luhrmann's visuals should be. Luhrmann uses stock footage of the 1970’s to create an even more compelling effect, and in part two, he even uses comic book or cartoon animation. He catalyses this and music to evoke a sense of nostalgia in the show, which is super effective.
The creativity in The Get Down is endless, and although it seems excessive at some points, it's Luhrmann's style and he makes it work to bring the 1970’s to life. Ultimately, the show is about the beginning of Hip Hop in the Bronx, and with the many different plot lines, it still defines embarkment, for all of the kids in the show are assuming with reinvigorated emergences to the talents that they discover, but also with their relationships to others and the influences around them. ✉
article by: kaitlin browne
visual by: the get down