With all the hype Stranger Things received this summer, it was hard to notice any other Netflix Original Series that were released around the same time. This is definitely the case for Netflix’s phenomenal, but significantly less popular show, The Get Down, a six episode series created by “Romeo + Juliet” director Baz Luhrmann.
Netflix has become not just a widely popular streaming server, but also a growing provider of countless original content. When Stranger Things was released in July, it was met with outstanding reviews, and amassed a large fan base. It was pretty hard not to fall in love with the plucky group of kids, the combination of sci-fi and mystery, and the 80’s nostalgia. The same can’t be said, however, for The Get Down. While Stranger Things is an excellent show, it has caused people to forget and overlook another fantastic Netflix Original, The Get Down, which was released in August.
The Get Down is set in the South Bronx during the 1970s, and it explores the origins of hip-hop, and its roots in the Bronx. It’s a show focused on music, but there are also coming-of-age elements and scenes of their struggles with class and race. The cast is predominantly black and Latino, which is rare in television series, and it is composed of mainly young actors.
The story follows Ezekiel “Zeke” Figuero, a sensitive teenager who lives in the Bronx, and writes poetry that highlights the hardships he experienced during his childhood, including the death of his parents. His love interest is Mylene Cruz, who is an aspiring disco star, but is unable to show her true passions, due to her overly religious father. As Zeke deals with the pressure of envisioning a fulfilling future, he meets and befriends graffiti artist and hopeful DJ, Shaolin Fantastic. Also present is a young Grandmaster Flash, who was still mostly unknown at the time, and is a mentor to Shaolin. Zeke discovers the world of “the get down”, the underground hip-hop and DJ scene.
The series also has a fantastic soundtrack and stunning visuals. Just like Stranger Things, it invokes a feeling of 70’s nostalgia (though it admittedly may not be as popular as the 80’s). Although the main plot is obviously about hip-hop’s beginnings, there lies a deeper, more relatable story of hope, and working hard to reach your dreams. Just look at Mylene, who wants to prove she can make it out of the Bronx and become a famous disco star. It also shines a light on the power that words and art can have on a society, and it celebrates music like no other. As well as, showcasing the impact youth and teenagers can have, and how, just like now, they refuse to be looked down upon by adults. A quote that resonates with viewers is when Zeke tells a group of people in the Bronx “The young people aren’t the problem, we’re the solution.”
The Get Down deserves every bit of attention that Stranger Things has. Both are amazing shows, but only one is getting the coverage it deserves. The Get Down tells a story that needs to be told, but one that has rarely been told. The entire first season is streaming on Netflix. I leave you with something I’ve been saying since August, whenever someone talks to me about TV: “WATCH THE GET DOWN!”
By: Emily Reynolds