There were various strange and annoying things The Get Down of Netflix, but perhaps the oddest was the way it was defined. Breaking with tradition, this streaming company didn’t release the full first season at once but instead broke it into two parts: Six episodes came last summer, and five available now to watch. We loved the season 1 of The Get Down- as flawed as it was, there was nothing like it.
A colorful rhyme to ‘70s New York at peak of disco and Hip Hop’s beginning, it was the story of a bunch of kids who wished to escape their conditions and be rap superheroes at a time where no one was aware of what rap was and the Bronx burned and politicians did small to stop it. And although it was billed as half a story, it felt entire enough to not feel cheap in its decision to break its plot in half. So, is Part 2 worth your hours? In short, yes- but perhaps prepare for yourself first. This show begins to get real weird.
It all beings facilely enough: At the end of Part One, most of the cast is on their way to achieving a dream of some sort. Protagonist Ezekiel ‘Books’ Figuero and hi buddies have formed The Get Down Brothers and become young vanguards of rap. He’s got an internship, and he is thinking about college.
Mylene Cruz, the daughter of a preacher with the show-stopping vocal, is on her path to becoming a disco queen. She’s got a record deal, and everyone in her orbit is hurling to success. Part Two, however, is all about pressure. The bargains Books and Mylene made to get position on a way out of the Bronx are beginning to backfire, and the cast of characters around them start to close in and combine to keep them where they were at the begin. It’s also, tonally, all over the place, with animated pauses, bangin’ club scenes, heavy drama, and an inferno-esque slope craziness that will not see coming. But it’s all worth it.
An immense part of The Get Down is concerned with futures, and who gets to have them. Books, a Bronx-born Latino, tries hard to excite a Yale mixer but is continuously reminded he doesn’t belong. Shaolin Fantastic (The Lady-Killing Romantic), Book’s best friend and DJ, is also tied keeping him tied to the hood, the sort of drug-dealing problem maker the reputable white folk of educated society is not interested in providing a chance to.
Mylene finds success, but loses her agency, as her dad demands she uses her popularity to support fill his pews of the church, while her record label pushes her to hold her sex appeal to increase sales and publicity. It’s a story where those who try to become upwardly mobile and enhance their conditions are reminded of their place by those with the authentic power and influence, a story about a bunch of kids who wish to escape the conditions they took birth are constantly shut out. So, the cheat their way out. With music.
It also has Jaden Smith in the most Jaden Smile role thinkable, one that finds his role, Dizzy, frequently imagining himself as an animated super-rational alien, narrating the ventures of The Get Down Brothers in comic book form. These pauses never really make sense, and are never really fine, but they’re strange in a memorable path. In fact, when The Get Down is at it’s bad- namely, in the penultimate episode, which is reminiscent of Moulin Rouge in its feverish mania, marching its characters towards a strange parody hell in a manner that feels like it’s from another show completely- it remains fascinating. The show does not half-ass anything, even its not good ideas. And besides, there are only five fresh episodes, so why not check them out?