Netflix’s Original Series, The Get Down, is a beautiful mess, delving far deeper beyond our stereotypes of the 1970s.
Disclaimer: This post was written by a guest blogger.
Flick through the decades of the 20th century in your head. Typically, each era is characterised by a unique cultural amalgamation of music, fashion, political clamour, and societal evolution. Now, picture the 1970s through the eyes of the western-centric Generation Z: afros, discos, flared trousers. While these stereotypically accurate features are representative of the 70s aesthetic in the USA and UK, they barely skim the surface concerning the cultural processes at play in this colourful decade.
Created by the famously eccentric Baz Luhrmann, The Get Down takes place in late 1970s New York – a time of disco-mania, high racial tensions and ever-persistent class inequalities within the city. Our protagonists are young dreamers with visions and aspirations cast beyond the confines of the Bronx and music is their path to freedom. The show sets the stage for the birth of rap and hip-hop within a disco frenzied era and alongside this important aspect of African-American culture, it addresses issues with drug culture, racism and religion in an ever modernising but problematic society.
While The Get Down boasts many spectacular aspects, its most outstanding feature is the detail dedicated to the world-building. Never have I had a more immersive experience than I did whilst watching this show; the streets, the cars, the clothes, the music, the language; absolutely everything felt as if I had travelled 40 years into the past. This comes unsurprisingly as Luhrmann spent 10 years perfecting his concept for The Get Down and consulting hip-hop legends Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow and Nas during production to ensure the utmost accuracy concerning the emergence of an entirely new musical culture.
The cast is phenomenal. Comprising mostly of unknown young black and Latino actors, their performances are compelling and moving as they navigate their ways through life in the Bronx. Without spoiling too much, each character is entirely different with personal elements distinctly adapted to a life in the 70s.
If you have no love for 70s disco or hip-hop, The Get Down still doesn’t lose its appeal. With a combination of original tracks spanning from Donna Summer to Nas and classic 70s records, the musical journey through the show is carefree and feel-good. The incredibly talented actors perform moving original songs with themes of real life issues interwoven into their lyrics and meanings. If you do have a love for hip-hop, then you’re in the right place to learn about its history and beginnings as hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash was heavily involved with the production of the show.
If these brief reasons are not compelling enough to convince you to watch The Get Down then I recommend you watch it if only to form your own outlook. This phenomenal TV show is so carefully crafted it will have you feeling as though you are playing a VR video game set in 1970s New York. With a narrative addressing multiple past social issues, an unbelievably talented diverse cast, and an ever so thoughtfully composed original soundtrack, The Get Down is not simply a TV show but a culmination of a decade of hard work intricately presented for you to get immersed in another time in another place.
The Get Down Part 2 returns April 7th on Netflix.