Ploumis Reviews The Get Down

 

Jessica Ploumis

Netflix has done it again. In the same spirit as its other famous original series (Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, Grace and Frankie etc.) The Get Down is unlike anything you’ve seen before. From the very first scene – you just – feel it.Directed by: Baz Luhrmann, Ed Bianchi, Andrew Bernstein and Michael Dinner; Written by: Baz Luhrmann, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, Sam Bromwell, Jacqui Rivera, Lana Cho, T Cooper, Sinead Daly, Allison Glock- Cooper, Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, and Nelson George

Feel a soul, a familiar soul. That dark excited soul – New York City. Teamed up with music industry icon Nas, director Baz Luhrmann tells the story of a group of teenagers growing up poor and bored in the Bronx. Set in the late 1970’s, the story begins with the main characters whizzing around on the last day of school before summer vacation. Each one has a dream for the summer. Some want to leave the Bronx, some want to get the girl, others want to get rich quick, some want to share their art, but they ALL want something MORE. This cast is diverse and with the exception of Jaden Smith, son of famous actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith – is relatively unknown. These fresh faces give life and a refreshing voice to the script. Like a deep breath before running through highway traffic, these actors display perfect timing and practiced emotion.

The Get Down could not come at a more appropriate time in American history. With an upcoming election and minority rights (or lack thereof) in the news every day The Get Down shows us that not much has really changed from the 70’s to now. Puerto Ricans and African Americans are still a “them” trying to chisel out a place in the world.  Politician’s use the “struggling minority agenda” as a platform for a wider voter turnout.  In each episode politicians try to relate to these heavily desired and formerly “untapped” constituents . . . . sound familiar? #hotsauceinmybagswag

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Regarding the politicians in this series, major community leader Francisco aka Papa Fuerte (Jimmy Smits) must decide where his allegiance lies. He must weigh the cost of siding with “the man”and potentially providing housing for a desolate community. Main character Ezekiel (Justice Smith) must decide between the following:  taking an internship in the city with a man who has notably hurt his community in order to get an “in” – and get out of the Bronx with his lady love Mylene (Herizen F. Guardiola). Or follow his dream of being a wordsmith and continue to work and battle with the undeniable Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore). Shaolin Fantastic is an up and coming DJ, shrouded in mystery and driven to prove himself as the best.

Mylene must choose between living her life as the obedient pastor’s daughter or pushing the boundaries and following her dream of escaping of the Bronx and being a famous singer. Even though every character is trying to get out – we as an audience are diving right in. The Bronx is a wasteland of color – burnt buildings, graffitied trains and nightclub lights guiding our characters from day to day. To survive everyone must tip toe between drug dealers, politicians, parents who don’t understand and a society determined to make them a statistic instead of a contributor.

I love how Luhrmann inserts himself into every scene. If you are familiar with some of his famous works like Moulin Rouge, Romeo and Juliet, and The Great Gatsby, you know exactly what sort of magic this director drips into his work. So unique to see in a series, Luhrmann’s cinematic, theater-esque close ups, score, comedic action – not to mention the intensity of his editing –  elevate the script to a level of grit and necessity not seen outside of big budget films. The series seamlessly combines the urban struggle of Good Times and the dramatic romance of West Side Story – and naturally, the music does not disappoint! Mylene will bring you to your knees with her soulful croon, Shaolin will bring you to your feet with his beats and Ezekiel will bring you back to reality with his truth-ridden rhymes.

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What more can I say – this is the show I didn’t know I was waiting for. The one I forgot I needed. Entertainment, meets quality, meets history, meets adversity, meets beauty, meets vision.

Check it out – season two is set to premier in 2017!

 

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