Every now and then, a TV show comes around and sweeps me off my feet. In the past it’s been Game of Thrones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Family Guy. But recently, a completely different show has won my heart. I’m talking about The Get Down.
I’ve alluded to my love for Hip-Hop in some of my past articles, so it’s no surprise I’m well into The Get Down.
The Get Down is set in The Bronx in 1977, and follows the life of an intelligent, high-schooler, Ezekiel (Justice Smith). Ezekiel, more commonly known as ‘Zeek’, has a flare for poetry and a burning passion to be the best. After a chance run in with Bronx native and aspiring DJ, Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), the two decide to join up and form a hip-hop crew, The Get Down, recruiting Zeek’s childhood friends Boo-Boo (Tremaine Brown Jr.), Ra-Ra (Skylan Brooks) and Dizee (Jaden Smith).
The newly formed group link up with Grandmaster Flash (Mamoudou Athie – one of the Grandfathers of the genre), who teaches them the basics of b-boying, scratching and building up street credibility.
The Get Down is an incredible balance between fiction and non-fiction.
It gives great props to other prominent DJ’s of the time, like DJ Kool Herc, while keeping the plot unpredictable with the addition of The Get Down crew (a seemingly fictional group).
But the show isn’t only about writing rhymes and scratching decks: it tackles head on the most important issues of the time in a way that resonates with a modern audience. Issues of race, crime, faith in the face of despair, familial relationships, passion vs. pragmatism, are all played out on screen in a relatable fashion. The Get Down puts a face to the people so often dismissed by society as ‘troublesome’, and builds bridges through music.
On top of an incredible conscience, the show also displays one of the funkiest, most fun soundtracks I’ve ever heard.
Considering the prominence of disco at the time, the show takes no short-cuts in displaying the top tracks, including songs like Turn The Beat Around by Vickie Sue Robinson, and Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry.
This adds to the overall authenticity of the show. Everything from the afros, to the flared pants, peak lapels and silk shirts, are absolutely spot on.
In the first episode, the talk of the town is the ‘new’ Star Wars: A New Hope, and we are introduced to Ed Koch’s campaign for city mayor and his war on crime. Even the contrast used in post-production is an ode to the era, using a familiar orange hue, giving an aesthetic we mostly associate with the 70s.
Weaved throughout the life and times of Zeek is his love interest, Mylene. Mylene’s wishes for Zeek to straighten out his life are at constant odds with him and his crew. Between Mylene and Shaolin Fantastic, Zeek is stuck between his love for his art, and the prospects of education.
Zeek speaks to the teenager in all of us. He’s in a constant battle with authority, whether that comes from his mother, school teachers, or the law. His form of expression, his music, is shunned by society, but his will to pursue his dream is inspiring.
The Get Down is the coolest show on television right now. If you haven’t seen it already, drop whatever you’re doing, run to the nearest TV or computer, and get started.
My Rating: 8.5/10