Some series capture our hearts, and hang around forever. We loved The Simpsons, and for that reason it has yet to end, despite the fact that it probably should. Some series are however, given a premature cancellation. Though they had so much more to give, they were taken away from us in their prime, for reasons unknown. An example of such is Netflix’s The Get Down (2016-2017). But do not fear, it’s hanging around, ready to binge-watch, so pick it up whilst you still can!
The Get Down aired on Netflix in August 2016, a fact you’d be forgiven for not knowing. It’s a hidden gem, and constantly faces threats of cancellation despite positive reviews. Set in the Bronx in the 1970s, it’s a celebration of nostalgia not unlike the far more successful Stranger Things. This time it’s less bikes and Eggo waffles and more disco and R&B – but there’s an equal amount of Star Wars references. The series’ lack of recognition is confusing, given that its creator is none other than Baz Luhrmann. He’s the man behind The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge. He does here what he does best: an aesthetically pleasing musical, complete with love, comedy and gangsters. Though it may not be quite as iconic as Romeo + Juliet, Luhrmann does not disappoint.
The story is told through the eyes of the loveable Zeke Figuero, a poet who finds his true talent in rap after meeting an aspiring DJ. The show deals with racial struggles and real-life issues facing the Bronx at the time by incorporating actual news footage. Yet these struggles are not historically exclusive, they’re relevant and relatable. Take Mylene Cruz for example: she longs for fame as a disco singer, but is held back by her strict religious father, who thinks her dreams are inappropriate. She’s hard-working, intelligent, fierce and independent. Mylene and her friends are not pit against each other, instead they support each other’s ambitions. They serve as important representation of positive female friendships, something often lacking in television. Each character has their own struggle, from class, to art, to sexuality.
Every actor is individually great, making each character distinct and memorable. Considering Hollywood’s recent whitewashing and lack of representation in general, celebrating black culture with a diverse cast like this is crucial. Perhaps the best addition to the series is Jaden Smith as Dizzee Kipling. In The Get Down, Smith has finally found his footing as a queer, philosophical graffiti artist. Forget his weak acting in After Earth and occasionally annoying tweets, Jaden Smith is a pleasure to watch in this series. He’s compelling, funny and unique. Not only is the series’ acting brilliant, the singing is nothing short of phenomenal. Part one gives us “Set Me Free”, a song you won’t be able to take off loop once the series ends. As always with Luhrmann’s work, each song is pretty much a masterpiece.
Though we might be used to seeing Baz Luhrmann’s work on the big screen, The Get Down is nothing short of a cinematic experience. As opposed to the usual two-hour cinema trip, there are two short seasons waiting for you. The first episode may seem long and drawn out, but it brings us one of the show’s most dramatic scenes, and it’s worth hanging on to see what the rest of the series has to offer. Perhaps the 1970s fashion is enough to sell some people alone. Part two was released in April of this year, and once you’ve run through all eleven episodes, you’ll be heartbroken that no renewal came our way.