This year, TV shows related to music in one way or another were not very lucky. Vinyl, primarily remembered for playing Bobby Cannavale, was canceled after the first season - either because of low ratings, or because of HBO's stagnation, or simply because the authors did not have a new big drama. Showtime's summer novelty "Guest Performers" about the everyday life of the technicians of a well-known rock band has a very uneven rhythm - and there is less interest in it (but less complaints about the musical part). Martin Scorsese is responsible for Vinyl, Cameron Crowe is responsible for The Guest. Another summer premiere, The Get Down series about the heyday of hip-hop and disco, which Baz Luhrmann is working on, was initially treated with curiosity: whether another eminent director would be able to shoot a show centered on music. Or, at least, whose main theme in the trailers and the first minutes seems to be music.
The main events of "The Get Down" take place in 1977, and all this is a flashback of one of the heroes recalling the events of twenty years ago at a recital. Hip-hop parties are already taking place in New York, but not everyone knows about them, most of the townspeople go to listen to disco. A new candidate for mayor promises to protect the city from graffiti, while the artists themselves are considering moving to galleries. The Bronx is restless and every day something burns, and from day to day there will be a power outage throughout New York. The main characters of the series live in approximately such an environment.
This is Ezekiel, the guy who can't choose between going to college and writing the lyrics for the first hip-hop songs. Mileen, torn between a devout family and her dream of a career as a disco diva. A guy named Shaolin Fantastic who has to combine DJing and work for local drug dealers. A somewhat apathetic street artist, Markus, who simultaneously bombs trains and thinks about high things (however, there is so little contradiction here), and his brothers, Ra-Ra and Boo-Boo, with an indefinite occupation. It is easy to see that everyone is trying to do something on two fronts, they live a double life. For those who, nevertheless, did not catch the coincidence (although with the abundance of parallel editing this is almost impossible), here it is at the end spoken out in plain text.
All thoughts that arise during viewing (that life is a series of fatal consequences of varying degrees of amusement, and that it is always better to stick together) are also almost head-on when viewing and do not pretend to be originality, but most often here the characters reach until a similar later viewer. Not in order to indicate the superiority of one over others, but only to show their naivety, honesty, an attempt to understand themselves.
While Western music publications unanimously praise "The Get Down" for being really dedicated to music and not trying to condescendingly talk about hip-hop, the main thing here is how the series echoes the characters and destinies of its heroes. … It is chaotic, sometimes too provocative and very lively: the main merit of "The Get Down" is how subtly the series conveys that feeling in youth, when you do not really understand what to do, but you still move forward. There are a lot of plot lines, some of them may disappear for a long time, others could be dispensed with - and all of them are related only to the second, "real" life of the characters. It is much more difficult to find fault with creative twists and turns - however, you can also get tired of constant throwing from side to side. However, in these endless and repetitive experiences, a characteristic sign of youth is also read.
Of course, "The Get Down" follows the course of history - there is also the aforementioned New York blackout, the consultants of the series Grandmaster Flash and Cool Hurk appear in the frame, the future mayor of the city Ed Koch is not unsuccessfully trying to get votes from residents of poor areas, and so on. At the same time, Luhrmann's team, especially Ed Bianchi, who directed half of the episodes, deliberately achieves a sense of unreality, artificiality of what is happening. But Luhrmann himself in the pilot episode, on the contrary, makes his author's style almost invisible and concentrates on the heroes, seeking a theatrical setting rather than artificial.
Bianchi, on the other hand, maneuvering between the style of hip-hop clips of the 2000s, advertising and musical posters of the same time, finally turns "The Get Down" into memories of something that seemed to exist, but seemingly fabulous, while stuffed with quotes and from later times (the film "Dope" will be remembered by the audience more than once or twice). Considering that the series will primarily be watched by young Netflix users, the director's idea seems logical: viewers will more easily swallow what is happening as a legend about the old times, fantastic, albeit with elements of reality. Yes, there are several corpses here, blood on the dance floor and an overdose - but there was enough cruelty in the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
That is why in "The Get Down" there are so bright colors, deliberately rustic, old-fashioned special effects (just like in the recent "Stranger Things") and endless tips for the audience: here they often remind what happened not so long ago, the events that happened earlier are retold by the heroes, and old grudges between friends are easily forgotten. Even instead of names, many characters have no more than nicknames - their passport data clearly would not add anything to the image. All this leads to a happy ending for at least one of the heroes walking around the Madison Square Guarden level setting and reminiscing about the past. The man for whom hip-hop has become life - not in vain all the texts to Ezekiel were written by the producer of the series and the legend of style, Nes - and who is trying to show all the charm of the genre by his example.
The most entertaining in the next part of the series (the season for some unnamed reasons was divided into two parts: now only 6 episodes have been released, the rest will be shown in 2017), it seems, will not even be what the team of Ezekiel and his friends will achieve, but how much on their your views will be influenced by your acquaintance with the punk and art scene of the city. And the fact that the topic is becoming more important than the life of the heroes is not only indicative, but in this case, for some reason, it is also joyful. While many other growing up TV shows and films might have been about anything, they wouldn't have lost it, hip-hop is really important here.
Hip-hop team battles and underground parties, as well as going to gay bars and recording a disco track in a church, are the most spectacular, impressive and simply interesting moments of the series. It's a pleasure to watch the intertwining of rhymes and masterful work of DJs: music is really the core of "The Get Down". And let Can's “Vitamin C” seem to be the most important hip-hop song in the end. It is due to convention that the series becomes surreal - and therefore more exciting than any documentary about the genre. However, with them, most likely, after "The Get Down", many will have a desire to familiarize themselves.