Sprawling with a great blend of hip hop, rap and disco tunes, The Get Down is the 70's music filled, star-crossed-lovers, polictical, gangster drama you never knew you needed in your life. It's a fond (if slightly rose tinted) view of the emerging music and arts scene, heavilly focused on the South Bronx and the diversity of people who call it their home.
The first episode, is a movie in itself and Baz Luhrmann stamps his mark all over it, BUT it is a fantastic opening to the three main storylines: Zeke, his friends and his talent for rapping, Mylene and her dreams of becoming a disco star and the political battleground of the Bronx is a focus of the mayor elections. I didn't care too much for any of the political storyline, it was a bit dry but did serve as context for the hip hop and disco art scenes.
Zeke is a likeable guy, trying to survive in the Bronx not dreaming of anything big until he means Shao, who's the series 'bad boy with a good heart' who introduces him to "The Get Down" and the different DJ crews of the Bronx. Together with 3 similarly artistic brothers, they form the Get Down Brothers and aim to start their own hip hop, rapping crew and make it big in the music world. By far the most interesting of the three storylines, over the series we see Zeke take charge over his life, follow his music dreams and stand up for what he believes in through a solid character arc of growing up and speaking out. Shao is on the cusp of the music and gangster world and has the 'street smarts' to pull off just about anything. I was really glad he wasn't a full time gangster, but saw gang life as a means to an end rather than join in with Fat Annie fully and put his love of music above everything else.
Mylene's journey is parallel to Zeke's in some ways as she too wants to make her own music and get it out to the world. However, she's more 'clean cut' and tries to go through a record producer etc etc... I get that it's hard to get a music deal but really the show could have cut out some of the struggles with Mylene getting a record contract and just had more of her singing, she is an AMAZING singer and can really belt out both gospels and disco music.
Zeke and Mylene's relationship goes back and forth, but like a typical Luhrmann drama, they overcome challenges, see the best in each other and fall for each other nicely (if quickly). Mylene's supportive friends and Zeke's crew are great supporting characters in their own right, and it was a shame not to get to know more about them. (Apart from Dizee's sub plot about being graffiti artist and experiencing the growing art and LGBTQ scene, which really would have been nice to be expanded on a bit, or at least not been quite such a solo effort).
Although the episodes were a uneven in terms of pacing, and any scenes about the gang violence or upcoming election were sluggish, the music of the series shone out and the parties and DJ battles where Zeke busts out his rhymes were really entertaining. Loved the final Get Down DJ battle, some great music and collboration there!
I’m so sad that The Get Down has been cancelled, it had good acting, lots of current themes explored and some really catchy music. Although there were obvious plot lines that fizzled out, there was plenty of good stuff to keep writing about.
Anyway I did enjoy watching part 2 of The Get Down, the kids are much more grown up and able to make informaed choices that will determine the course of their futures. Zeke has to choose between education and music, ultimately realising that he needs to find where he fits into the world, and join his family rather than be the token minority. Myleene goes through a journey of being ‘used’ by her record company but emerges stronger because of her experiences of fame, choosing to go to LA and be a movie star. I was pleased that the ‘star crossed lovers’ theme from part 1 was still a key theme of Zeke and Myleene’s relationship and that for the most part they got through relationship troubles together in a more adult way than in part 1.
The Get Down Brothers have more funky beats to play this season and their dance/song routines are slick. Sad that the other brothers only had very minor storylines, it would be good to see more character development for Boo, Dizzee and Ra Ra as they were all set up to have interesting personalities but failed to develop beyond very set stereotypes. Although the disbanding the Get Down Brothers was a solid place to end the season, it felt very sudden and lots of questions are unresolved - we know what Myleene and Shao are doing but what about everyone else? I hope there’s a finale of some sort to let us know where the characters are all now.
There were only 5 episodes in this part 2 of The Get Down so very little actually happens in terms of plot. Lots of relationship drama, and growing up/moving on troubles. Shao probably has the biggest shift, after breaking free of Annie, he ultimately returns to his abuser by the series end - a really heartbreaking scene that undercut much of the emotional development Shao had undertaken over the season. The biggest plot point was a subplot about Myleene’s uncle actually being revealed to be her father and her ‘father’ shooting himself in a church. Very dramatic, but really aside from making Myleene a bit sad for an episode, it didn’t move the plot forward successfully.
My main reason for tuning into the show though were the musical numbers. Myleene is an incredible singer and her songs are great, as are the raps by the Get Down Brothers. Arguably the disco music that forms most of the background music is catchy too and with a bigger budget for musical/dance numbers, those moments are where the show really shined best. Oh and to see if Thor/Dizzee continued their relationship (yay they did) but it would have been so so good to see more of the LGBT and artistic community of the Bronx in the show. Ah well, so long, farewell, thanks for a fun few hours The Get Down!