Do you have teenage children? Are you a hip hop head? Maybe you remember those days when disco gave way to hip hop and the new genre came to the fore as the expression of the streets, the latest “thing.” If you want to share with your young adults what it was like to grow up in that time, and share some great music, then you should make The Get Down your next binge!
The Get Down is part Beat Street, part Westside Story and all heart. It’s the coming-of-age tale of a group of South Bronx, New York teenagers who find themselves on the cusp of a musical revolution. Told by the imaginative and colorful Baz Lurhman, The Get Down has also had its narrative informed by some who were there when Hip Hop first began. Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash consulted on the series, with Nas providing vocals for one of the characters, so there is definitely an air of authenticity when it comes to the flow the story takes around the birth of DJ’ing and B-Boying in general.
The Rainbow Coalition
There’s something for everyone and it’s one of the few shows which is actually very much inclusive, not focusing solely on black or white characters as is often the case in film and TV. The Latino community plays a huge part in the film thanks to characters played by Jimmy Smits and Giancarlo Esposito. Well those two fellas, and two of the stars of the film, Herizen F. Guardiola who plays Mylene, a would-be disco star and the daughter of Pastor Cruz, alongside relative newcomer Justice Smith who plays aspiring rapper Ezekiel. Their relationship is fun to watch on screen as it is filled with all the teenage angst and indecisiveness that these things tend to entail, but what really makes it enjoyable is Justice Smith’s portrayal of his character who is given the street name “Books.” His ability to deliver angsty, dramatic lines and take on serious moments, without coming off too cheesy, is very watchable and even moving at times. Then you have his crew, Dizee, Boo and Ra-Ra. They add comic relief to the series, but their own performances are fun, authentic and right on the mark. My personal favorite moment was Boo’s turn at the bootleg turntable as he called himself “Boo-Nasty” over the loudspeaker. You’ll have to see it for yourself, to understand.
Master The Crayon, Grasshopper
As a student of the martial arts and lover of old school movies like The Last Dragon, one of the plot lines I most enjoyed was Shaolin Fantastic, played by Shameik Moore, and DJ Grandmaster Flash’s (Mamoudou Athie) student/teacher relationship. The series plays that out like a Karate Master and apprentice relationship, complete with words of wisdom, lessons wrapped in riddles and stirring moments where the mentor attempts to help the mentee find himself and hone in on his raison d’être. I have to say that Athie is actually one of my favorite actors on the show. His passion, his delivery and his character are just so much fun, I actually look forward to the moments he graces the screen with his presence.
Get Down with The Get Down
While I can see where some folks have had some criticisms of the show and it’s character development, I really felt like Luhrman and crew did a fine job creating a tale that I cared about and became emotionally invested in. Was there some cheese? Yes. Were there some cliches? Yes. Was it absolutely enjoyable with a great soundtrack and some wonderfully nostalgic moments and music? Yes, yes and yes. There is some coarse language and there are some adult situations so this is definitely not one for younger children but for your teens, this is probably going to be a fun show to sit down to and share some cultural history, as well as some laughs about how short you used to wear your shorts.
Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have been compensated for my monthly participation in the program. I choose the content, I decide what to post, but I was already a huge Netflix fan before they approached me so connecting with them was a no-brainer.