In anticipation of the return of The Get Down tomorrow, I decided that it was about time I posted my review of the show, although I watched it about five months ago. It may have taken me a ridiculously long time to write this post, but if you’re reading this before the premiere of part 2, then I’m about to get you pretty excited.
I’m not going to lie to you, it took me a very long time to get into The Get Down. For almost six months all my closest friends we’re trying to get me on this show because they thought I would appreciate either the artistry, music or just the characters and storyline in general. They weren’t wrong. I appreciated all of those things and I’ll get to them in a bit, but with all that hype surrounding the show, I went into the pilot expecting so much and I was just let down. Like one of the main characters, Shao, says to our protagonist Ezekiel, finding the get down is all about isolating the ‘wack’ which surrounds it. I found that to be true, in a more literal way than I thought I would.
The pilot did give me an idea of what the show was going to be about but there was also so much else going on that at times it felt like the story lines were conflicting and it just wasn’t catching my attention. I just remember thinking ‘this is soo long omg it’s a whole movie’ and ‘Is this even about him and this Mylene girl, him and Shao or just something else completely that I’m missing’. I was lost. Watching the pilot, I could see how much thought had gone into the production of the show. I think that was what I appreciated most in the pilot. Yes it’s crucial that you hit the nail on the head whenever a show is set in the past with regards to setting, environment, everything, even down to what background noise there is. The Get Down does it beautifully. the show is set in 1977 and they got every single thing right. From the looks of the buildings, the characters wardrobes, dialogue, all of it and what I especially appreciated was how they incorporated real footage into it. It just blended in with the productions design so beautifully. It made it feel real to me and I’ll be honest, it definitely played a part in me continuing the show.
Many people in their written works and on social media have called the get down a love letter to hip hop and the Bronx and I completely agree. Like I said earlier, at some point it felt like there was a lot going on but underneath all of the crazy story lines there were simplicities that made the show just that much more lovable. There was the banter, the black banter, the musical breaks, the dance breaks; gosh I loved seeing those, and the fight scenes which in my opinion had a lot of resemblance to Jet Lee’s fight scenes. Not that I’ve seen many Jet Lee movies but I think you can understand what I’m trying to say here. All of this comes together to beautifully tell a story of romance, coming of age and finding the get down. All of this done against the tainted background which is the Bronx but simultaneously bringing out a certain charm to the city.
The Get Down tells the story of two young men, both trying to find themselves. First we have Ezekiel Figuero. When the audience is first introduced to him he’s a shadowy figure on the stage of Madison Square Garden, rapping about his life, so instantly we know he made it. it then fades into a flashback where we see him as a teenager. Zeke is completely focused on wooing his butterscotch aka Mylene. The girl he’s helplessly in love with. Zeke also happens to be a talented wordsmith and his teacher is trying to get him to focus on school but at the time Mylene has all his attention. The only person that is able to take his mind off her from the moment they first met and the entirety of the show is Shaolin Fantastic. Now Shao is a wonderfully interesting character. Shao is a low-level drug dealer who tries to get away from that life and focus on music. He looks up to Grandmaster Flash and is desperate to learn the trick of the trade. Simply put, Zeke and Shao meeting was fate. Both of them were and for the rest of the show are just trying to find the get down in their lives; isolating the wack of their world, the violence, poverty and hardship.
Bear with me and just go with this analogy for a bit. A vinyl has a song on it, and in order to find the get down you’ve got two vinyls on the turn table trying to find the perfect time to switch over. You have to tune out the wack. Okay so now the two vinyls on the turn table were the two storylines and each of those had their own little subplots; the wack. At times it was hard to tune that out. The bridge, the person doing that mixing was Zeke. Firstly I would just like to give a big shout out to whoever the casting director was because they got it spot on. Justice Smith, the actor who plays Zeke delivered the performance so brilliantly that I even forgot he was an actor. The teen angst, the passion, the drive, all of it was just so real. He ties together everything; the Shao and Mylene storylines, Shao and Mylene when the time comes, and everything else. I can’t help but wonder if Zeke being mixed race was intentional and linked to it for that very reason. Shao is black, Mylene Puerto Rican, Zeke half black half Puerto Rican, literally a mix of both worlds. The two constantly fight for his attention and he finds himself having to tune out the wack and remember to stay true to himself.
I don’t want to give too much away because unlike my usual posts, this one is a bit different considering that it’s a season review rather than an episode review. For anyone who hasn’t watched the show I don’t want you to have any spoilers so what I would say is it’s definitely worth your time. I’ll give it to you straight. It’s not bingeable, it drags, and it’s a lot but it’s definitely worth it. If you love your hip hop, production, artistry or you just enjoy tv shows in general, this is worth it. I am so ready for the part 2 premiere.