Netflix Original Series “The Get Down” celebrates the birth of Hip Hop

The Get Down


The Get Down

Anjanae Crump, Managing Editor

The Netflix Original Series, “The Get Down,” was one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve had all summer—or ever, from a TV show. This is no surprise, as it comes from Baz Luhrmann, the director of beautifully filmed movies, including “The Great Gatsby” and “Moulin Rouge.” Spanned over six extended episodes, the story of hip-hop’s birth is romantically and mystically told through the lives of five teenagers in the gritty 1970’s Bronx.

The show opens up with an older version of the main character, Ezekiel (Justice Smith), foreshadowing what is to come in the episode through rhyme, almost how a Greek chorus would. This brief flash-forward scene ends and the viewer is taken back to the ‘70s, and remains there for the remainder of the show. Throughout the episodes, there are clips of actual events and scenes from the time period integrated beautifully into the picture, making the experience appear even more authentic. Every episode features this rich dynamic.

This series presents various themes of love, drugs, music, art, friendship, politics and even Karate. Overall, it is a highly theatrical display but not quite a musical. It finds a comfortable spot in between. There is no shortage of dancing, disco or drama, and there is an overload of music.

The display of the vibrant culture of the ‘70s is wonderful. On top of the music, which includes disco, gospel and funk, elements of graffiti, punk and even drag are shown. And of course, there’s the heart of this series, the “Get Down”—the raw, beat-driven moments in disco that the DJ, initially Grand Master Flash (Mamoudou Athie), isolates and adds his own flare to. It is all combined harmoniously with the political and social issues of the day.

The characters are incredibly convincing in their roles. The relentless poet who will stop at nothing to win what he wants. The preacher’s daughter who rebels for her dreams. The cool kid obsessed with his craft. The DJ who has mastered it all. The drug dealers deep in the game, and the music producer deep in his addiction. The dirty politicians. The wise best friend. There are multiple personalities that combine to make this a very well-rounded and realistic series.

We get to watch these teenagers grow and find their place in the world while falling in and out of love, trouble and even reality. But it is their audacious visions and hunger for the future that fuels this entire series. The episodes play more like short films, and honestly, I didn’t want it to end! Luckily, a second season is expected next year. Even if you aren’t a big music fan, the pure beauty of this series is undeniable.