For better or for worse, I’ve spent my life and all my efforts being a movie guy. Knowing that the medium of the big screen is where the truly important and emotionally engaging stories are actually happening. Little did I know, the small screen is just where it is at.
While I hate reviewing things without seeing the complete product, I got the unique pleasure and opportunity to screen the first three episodes of The Get Down that is debuting on the Netflix streaming service all across the globe this Friday August 12th.
From creator and cinematic visionary Baz Lurhmann with a plethora of musical experts and producers in tow, The Get Down can only be described as a mythic saga that borders on operatic of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to a new art form. Set in New York in 1977, this music-driven drama series chronicles the rise of hip-hop and the last days of disco. It’s a story told through these South Bronx kids yearning to change their situation around them and through the music, dance, style, art and passion of the time they not only change their lives, but the world itself.
I know it sounds like hyperbole, and to be honest I’d be the first to call bullshit on myself in most cases but The Get Down is the kind of grand scale story with a sweeping narrative the feels larger than life and it doesn’t often get to be seen on any kind of platform, much less one that you can watch on your smart phone.
Lurhmann in teaming with up with four time Oscar winning producer Catherine Martin, hip hop icons like Nas and Grandmaster Flash along with award winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis and hip-hop historian Nelson George we get something that challenges the standard conventions of television itself. This is the great American Opera, told in dramatic flourishes and dripping with music that we simply can’t get enough of as it wraps us up into a period of social and cultural change that we could never have truly understood unless we were there.
It’s a powerhouse of an ensemble cast that has that absolutely sublime balance between fresh faced unmissable talent and veteran talent with the likes of Shameik Moore, Herizen F. Guardiola, Justice Smith, Jaden Smith, Tremaine Brown Jr alongside the likes of Jimmy Smits, Giancarlo Esposito, Eric Bagosian, Daveed Diggs and Kevin Corrigan it’s hard for any of these talent people to do any wrong. It walks the fine line between gritty, tragic and absolutely hopeful with amazing aplomb.
You can’t call this a review because I quite honestly haven’t experienced the entire thing yet, but much like O.J.: Made In America which was unquestionably a grand look at the great American tragedy, The Get Down is truly the great American opera as it chronicles the birth of a style of music and a culture that would sweep the globe and invariably change the pop culture landscape for the better. Watching this iconic piece of storytelling is simply vital, and that’s not a word I use often, because quite frankly nothing ever really is. However in these trying days of social and political strife it is an overwhelmingly beautiful thing to watch such a unique story that involves so many different cultures in our global melting pot because it reminds us that music can and always will break boundaries, and the magic of The Get Down will always remain eternal.
The first six episodes of The Get Down start streaming this Friday August 12th, and if anything, be sure to enjoy every last minute of it.