“The Get Down” was a warm breeze of late summer fun on Netflix. Against the backdrop of a broke (and broken) Bronx in the summer of 1977, “The Get Down” tells a story at the crossroads of disco and hip-hop. This was a time when New York City was severely in debt and was denied federal assistance to avoid bankruptcy under President Gerald Ford, yielding the famous New York Daily News 1975 headline: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” The Bronx and its residents were really suffering.
The show was created by Baz Luhrmann, who also directed the pilot. I’ve heard from a few friends who had lukewarm feelings after watching the very densely packed first episode, which I completely understand, since watching a Baz Luhrmann project is like eating a really rich, over-sweetened layer cake with frosting made of ecstasy and sprinkled with cocaine, then washing it down with Red Bull. You almost need to chase a Luhrmann movie with an Ingmar Bergman film just to come down. He starts off his new Netflix series, “The Get Down,” with a similar three-ring circus fervor, though it’s not his usual boisterous pageant of bells and whistles. Fortunately for “The Get Down,” the remaining five episodes are helmed by other directors who allow the story to breathe with more finesse and nuance. And it’s a pretty fabulous story.
One of the best best features of the 8-episode show was the music. Wow. Like, fuck me wow. It’s an early-to-mid ’70s aural orgy of soul, R&B, disco and even some rock in a beautiful blend of the popular and the more esoteric. My September 2016 playlist is a curated selection of some of my favorites that appeared in the series.
Go to the playlist on Spotify or listen below: