By Vivien Pua
Netflix’s new series The Get Down (2016) offers a fascinating take on a ‘period piece’ and like other Netflix original series has captivated audiences. Undoubtedly Baz Luhrmann’s gaudy depictions of the politically and socially strewn Bronx, and the foundation of hip-hop during the 1970s are aesthetically pleasing, and with a $120 million budget for the 7 episodes, this shouldn’t come as any surprise.
Following a Kung fu-esque quest, the series focuses on teenager Ezekiel Figuero’s internal and literal journey out of the Bronx. When his talent for poetry is paired with a fateful encounter with Shaolin Fantastic, Grandmaster Flash’s most notorious protégé, Ezekiel recruits his three friends to form the rap group known as ‘The Get Down’.
Surrounded by a whirlwind of sex, drugs and alcohol addiction, The Get Down offers a raw take on the social state of New York City during this time. Focusing on issues such as homophobia and touching on issues within the LGBTI+ community, makes the audience aware of these themes without the need to be ‘spoon feed’.
The structure of the show and the chronology is somewhat confusing due to Luhrmunn’s artistic vision. Mixing archived footage and audio adds an element of authenticity, which acts to balance the extravagant set and costume designs. The plethora of subplots will keep you engaged without being confused. With this being said, one aspect that was evidently lacking was complexity in character construction. Each character’s journey was somewhat predictable and their internal struggles were rather cliché. The over-use of archetypal character tropes really added to this effect. These included the overprotective father and his rebellious daughter, and the intelligent kid that is scared to reach his full potential.
All in all, Lurhmann’s work is worth the watch. If you have 7 or so hours to spare jump on Netflix and take in all of its disco grooviness.