The Get Down Resurrects 70s Culture
In the epicenter of violence and disco, “The Get Down” explores the journey of four boys plus one, and how they fight for their place in the south Bronx with hip-hop. A new take on the underdog story, “The Get Down” gives a refreshing feel to growing up.
Director and writer, Baz Luhrmann, explores the Bronx in the ’70s, a time when disco was dying and hip hop was on the rise. The series follows a group of friends on their individual journeys while corrupt politicians try to control the future of the city.
Over-the-top wannabe DJ, Shaolin Fantastic, played by Shameik Moore, spends his days running between drug deals and collecting records to become the next grandmaster DJ. After helping Ezekiel (Justice Smith), Shaolin teams up with Ezekiel and his three friends, Boo Boo, Ra Ra, and Dizzee to become the best hip-hop group in the south Bronx.
While struggling to find himself in corporate America, Ezekiel also tries to win over the pastor’s daughter, Mylene, played by Herizen Guardiola. While Mylene is trying to prove to her parents that she can make it as a singer with the help of her two friends, Yolanda and Regina, she also battles with her feelings towards Ezekiel.
The secondary characters don’t just stand in the background; each one of them represents a different part of the culture during that time period. Jaden Smith’s character, Dizzee, brings to life a fictional alien named Rumi through graffiti, and uses that to channel the racism and prejudice that he has faced throughout his life.
As all of these different characters go through their summer, each finding themselves in different ways, they are faced with gangs, shootouts and politicians who think the best way to end the violence in the Bronx is to discipline the children.
Somehow Luhrmann has managed to introduce the dramatic, mystical world of the ’70s in an almost dreamlike way. It’s confusing, it’s loud and it’s flashing lights, but that was the ’70s. It was a time of political corruption and a time for some of the best music to ever be created. The show has taken an entire subculture and made it accessible to everyone.
“The Get Down” features a multiracial cast and emphasizes the importance of Bronx culture in this time period. It holds nothing back. The show deals with racism, prejudice, and sexism. It deals with issues that are difficult to talk about in a way that makes the audience never want to look away.
The show seems overwhelming at first, with the first episode being 92 minutes long, but just when you start to feel lost, it’s pulled together. The directing leaves you feeling there in the show, and falling in love with each of the characters even with their own seemingly unbearable quirks.
Even if the directing is not enough to impress you, the character’s acting should get you excited. Justice Smith’s adolescent attitude mixed with Shameik Moore’s nonchalance each episode comes with it’s own onslaught of emotion, all to help the audience better understand what it felt to live for a day in the Bronx in the ’70s.