The Get Down: Where There is Ruin, There is Hope for a Treasure
August 13, 2016 6:50 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Review: ‘The Get Down’ Is ‘West Side Story’ With Rappers and Disco Queens “The Get Down,” Mr. Luhrmann’s 12-episode series for Netflix (six episodes will be available on Friday 8/12), is being promoted as “a comprehensive look at the art form’s true origins” and an authentic evocation of late-’70s New York, that caldron of burning buildings, bankruptcy, cocaine and revolutionary forms of popular music.

IMDb: The Get Down focuses on 1970s New York City - broken down and beaten up, violent, cash strapped -- dying. Consigned to rubble, a rag-tag crew of South Bronx teenagers are nothings and nobodies with no one to shelter them - except each other, armed only with verbal games, improvised dance steps, some magic markers and spray cans. From Bronx tenements, to the SoHo art scene; from CBGBs to Studio 54 and even the glass towers of the just-built World Trade Center, The Get Down is a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco -- told through the lives and music of the South Bronx kids who changed the city, and the world...forever. Written by Netflix

NYT Preview: ‘The Get Down’ on Netflix: A Superhero Fable About the Birth of Hip-Hop: In actuality, though, “The Get Down” is more like a secret superhero story, one with black and brown teenagers as the heroes. Using extravagant camerawork and technical tricks that present the protagonists as larger than life, “The Get Down” takes a period and place that’s often approached with dutiful naturalism and sobriety about difficult circumstances and infuses it with light touches of magical realism and bursts of palpable otherworldly joy. “They actually lived their magical realism,” Baz Luhrmann, the show’s co-creator and an executive producer, said about the youth of the era. “They had a magical reality.”

VULTURE: The Get Down is, at least in its first episode, the unmistakable product of its co-creator Baz Luhrmann. Consider this a blessing, a warning, or some odd combination of the two.
posted by pjsky (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I really enjoyed this. The first episode was practically a self-contained movie. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the cartoonish way that they portrayed the "villains," but realizing that it's a sort of kung-fu/anime call-out made me appreciate it more.

We recently watched Saturday Night Fever, so it's interesting to compare the two since I think they take place in the same year. You can also see how different movie/TV production and licensing is now. The dance sequences in Fever seem kinda off--the music doesn't match the moves, because they didn't have the song rights secured during production. Clearly the dance moves in this show are tailor-made to the songs.

Boardwalk Empire was the first fictional period show that I watched that incorporated real historical people. It's interesting to see how The Get Down uses Grandmaster Flash, and I'm curious which other real people pop up.

I don't know a ton about the birth of hip hop, but I had a vauge understanding that early rappers performed over disco tracks. The way Grandmaster Flash was basically manually looping the two albums was very cool, and really showed a palatable link between the two.
posted by radioamy at 1:16 PM on August 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Basically, this is the show Vinyl wishes out was. Went on for a more exciting era in music where things don't feel out of time, the introduction of Flash seems way more organic than the Forrest Gumping it so often resorted to, and even if it falls to magical realism, the characters seem more grounded than on Vinyl.
Although, I kinda expected the Turnbull ACs to drop by anytime.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:36 PM on August 13, 2016

Lots of great recreations of surfaces, from clothes to makeup to dance styles, not a lot of connection to the period or the people. I am not a fan of Luhrmann but was somehow hoping for better. Wish Lee Daniels had been the showrunner here.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 9:18 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Luhrmann's stuff is almost by definition a glorious theatrical soup, so if you like other stuff...

I love how he managed to capture the washed-out-yellows of how i remember early 80s NYC.

I was a poor white kid in the East Village (which for those who dont know, wasn't always the hip happening spot it is now) around when this happened, and so got to see the ravages of crack cocaine (which i hope thye get to, though i dont think it'd be in the scope for this season) and the inherent racism of the koch mayorship during this time. It's fascinating to see it from "the other side" and has given me an appreciation of both where hip-hop grew out of (culturally, politically and emotionally) as well as uncovering the truth behind the 'white narrative' of what was happening at the time.

I've never been much of a fan of 80s hip-hop musically (being born in 79 puts my golden age squarely in the early-to-mid-90s), but I've been going back and checking out of some recommended tracks with an open mind.
posted by softlord at 8:04 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just watched the first episode/mini-movie and it completely got to me in that way Luhrmann often gets to me. I am a sucker for dance-offs expressing complex emotions, honestly. I watched this coming of the back of Stranger Things which ultimately didn't work for me, but this did - straight away.
posted by kariebookish at 2:56 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

The first episode was great to watch, and I can't wait to see the rest of it. Similar to softlord, I was growing up in Queens, and going to school in Manhattan, at this time before ultimately leaving to live (for a while) in the Caribbean. So, this show gave a picture of what else was happening around me while I was really too young to appreciate/notice any of it, and before I left the city completely.
posted by alchemist at 6:24 AM on August 19, 2016


That is all.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:43 AM on August 21, 2016

This is by far my favorite Netflix original thing so far. I loved Stranger Things, but this is on another level. I guess Netflix is the American BBC now?

It's funny to think but I guess growing up with strict religious parents is like a thing of the past? Can kids these days even identify with it I wonder.
posted by fshgrl at 10:07 PM on August 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think Netflix is closer to BBCs model (quality, shorter and contained series) as opposed to US Network (20-something episode seasons, on air as long as they pull out audience).
posted by lmfsilva at 12:35 AM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Checked this out last night and really enjoyed it. It's definitely got that Luhrmann-y mix of energy and sentimental glurge, but I didn't find it too over the top. The acting performances seemed far better than the dialogue writing, but on the whole it was worth watching. The visuals are great, especially the way historic footage is blended into the montages that set the time and place. On the whole, having now read a bit about the project, I am a fan of the effort. It's a great story to tell, and the "magical realism" elements of Shaolin's just-a-little-too-unbelievable stunts, all the characters' comic-superhero role realization, and the feel of legend permeating reality seem like good fits for the subject matter. Also, the music is pretty great - I wanted a playlist from the first show immediately, disco included.
posted by Miko at 4:19 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I got curious and started reading about Grandmaster Flash. Here's a recent NYT profile, and here's his exegesis on The Theory.
posted by Miko at 10:06 AM on August 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Man, I loved this. I'm a week removed from finishing it, and I just keep telling people to watch. I am a fan of Luhrmann's stuff, as well as a casual fan of hip-hop music, so I'm probably the right demo for this. I've been so bummed that no one in my life is watching.

We had a party Saturday night, and all I wanted to do was play disco music (what?!). My 80's-&-90's-kid crowd wasn't down for it, but once they watch, I'm sure they will be. I love when media can make me nostalgic for a thing I never experienced. Can't wait for more.
posted by terilou at 11:55 AM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

So, is it okay to talk about the entire run (6 eps) since this is the only thread?

*spoilers maybe*

If so: I really liked this. it reminded me of Do the Right Thing as much as anything.

i loved how the teenage boys were skinny and actually looked like teenage boys.

I loved that Jimmy Smits got to get his Pacino on and chew some scenery.

I loved that Cadillac was a terrible dancer, and an even worse gangster.

The music was good, the rap battle was great: sound vs substance

Ezekiel's speech was terrific.

I didn't really buy into Shaolin's DJ chops, he just struck me more as a street hustler than a record nerd. true dj's don't flip through records, looking at the sleeves, they spin records on turntables, listening for the breaks. Yes, they showed this, but not really Shao doing it. i would have bought him more as the hustler/producer who arranges the gigs, but that wouldn't have tied him to GMF.

Origin stories tend to resonate most powerfully, so i wonder how much they have left in the tank for the rest of the show now that the breakouts have occurred? dunno, but i will definitely watch.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:26 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've watched the first two episodes, and this is probably my favorite Luhrmann thing yet. I kept thinking "West Side Story" also.

There is part of me that wonders about a white director with this kind of material, and the whole nostalgia-for-New York's-worst-days aspect of it. I keep comparing it to the NWA movie that came out last year, which was pretty soapy and simplified in its own way.

I think Smits is definitely one of my favorite parts, you can see him reveling in the chance to play such a meaty, over-the-top role.

I didn't really buy into Shaolin's DJ chops, he just struck me more as a street hustler than a record nerd. true dj's don't flip through records, looking at the sleeves, they spin records on turntables, listening for the breaks. Yes, they showed this, but not really Shao doing it. i would have bought him more as the hustler/producer who arranges the gigs, but that wouldn't have tied him to GMF.

Yeah, I kept wondering about his character. He is introduced with so much magic, then comes off kind of underwhelming. Where are they going with that? Might just be the writing, though.
posted by emjaybee at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2016

I just watched the first episode in my non-existent free time (during a lull at work) and loved it. I was 6 in 1977 and totally recognize the clothes and hair. The music is great, I found myself tapping along and wanting to get up and dance.
posted by Dragonness at 8:57 AM on September 28, 2016

I finally started this and I'm loving it. I really didn't expect the superhero origin story angle, to the point that I didn't even realize that's what they were doing until the end of the first episode, but it works so well. It gives them a way to set the series against such a potentially depressing backdrop yet do it in a way that's so joyful and thrilling.

I love the energy of the kids. They are so real and you really root for them. The moment in the second episode (SPOILERS) when Mylene decided to go for her dream in the church, fully knowing the price she would pay - I cheered.
posted by lunasol at 1:47 PM on October 2, 2016

hands heads up, returns April 7.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:26 AM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

So, I'm with only the finale to go...

- the story is still engaging

- while I get where they're going with the animated bits, it looks a bit like they were going off-budget and could not afford to film those scenes. Plus, they kinda look like those animated shorts pitchfork used to run where musicians told some stories and that was a bit distracting.

-is it me, or Toybox is just completely off? Not only it wasn't on par with other musical moments, but it sounded a couple decades more modern than expected and totally out of place. They could have easily ripped some Fiorucci era Madonna for the whole sex kitten bit.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:55 PM on April 10, 2017


Not surprised, even if it had some mileage left.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:30 AM on May 25, 2017

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