The Get Down, a Netflix original, is a reminder of the hardship the Bronx borough was given by a poor mayoral leadership and ignorance of the borough itself.
As soon as you press play, The Get Down has you hooked. Immediately, you are fastened to your seat by the main characters hip-hop vision of his younger self. In Ezekial’s (Justice Smith) rap lyrics, you are brought into The Get Down’s setting of the Bronx, its crime, poverty, poor school systems, and lack of leadership.
The Get Down begins obscurely but we are promptly made aware of our setting, history, and the problems we will face with Ezekial. Security is later given to us that these problems are not ours anymore but of the characters only. We are introduced to the main characters after their borough’s history is established through Ezekial’s storytelling.
The first episode begins with an older Ezekial spitting lyrics about his borough, the Bronx, in 1977. We are quickly then introduced to Ezekial’s love for poetry and rhyming as he shares rhymes about his love, Mylene, who he describes as a beautiful singer. These lyrics are provided on paper on the spot which acknowledges Zeke’s (Ezekial) talent in poetry. Zeke is daydreaming while doing but is then reminded that he was cooking eggs for his “father figure” and burns them when his “father figure” barges in smelling smoke from the kitchen in their small apartment. Immediately after we meet his aunt who is caring for him and we learn that his parents are missing. Zeke owns an old photo of his mother is which he shares a tiny but intimate moment with.
We meet Mylene through her voice. We hear her singing throughout the first scene and then see her sing a secular song at her father’s church to Zeke’s, piano playing. They’re both caught by her little sister working on a hidden project. Little to Mylene’s sister’s knowledge, Zeke and Mylene are working to record a cassette tape for Mylene to hand to a large disco star in an attempt to be recognized for her voice talent.
Mylene is the dreamer in this adventure and as Zeke and Mylene have their cute moments but we then meet Ra-Ra and Dizzee who are friends of theirs in the neighborhood. We then cut back to Mylene and Ezekial and their conversation about how well she did for her tape. This conversation is had while they smoke weed, which brings some laughs but at the same time Zeke and Mylene’s friends discuss in their own scene about how Zeke is going to ask Mylene’s to be his girlfriend.
This is how it is established that Zeke and Mylene are not together and that Zeke has feelings for this girl.
In the first few scenes of The Get Down, there is so much established that you find it impossible to press pause or look away from the screen to take a break because you risk missing important character information and the set up for the story. This is probably why when you watch The Get Down it instantly becomes a show where you can end up binge-watching the chow in a night because of how much information you are given.
Each episode is at least an hour and twenty-five minutes long. On Netflix, they only have part one available and part one itself has six episodes. I found myself watching the whole show in one night and not missing a single moment because I did not want to miss a single second of character development and Bronx stories.
As the episodes continued, we are introduced to more characters and events that Mylene and Zeke bring upon themselves to achieve their dreams. Mylene has a clear goal, to become the next disco star, and Zeke later realizes what he wants to do as he’s exposed to the world of hip-hop, and DJing.
While these characters live out their lives in the background, in the New York City streets, a new culture is forming. We find that the end of disco is near and that the rise of hip-hop and punk is entering the city streets. We meet characters like DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash who are known to have created hip-hop.
Later we also meet Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), who becomes a great influence for Zeke and his friends, as a kid who has dreams but is deep into the gang, drug, and street life. Shaolin becomes an unstable father figure for Zeke and his gang. Shaolin is seen in the first episode as a legend to Dizzee (Jaden Smith) and so it was easy for him to establish himself as a leader in Zeke’s gang.
While these kids are living their lives there is still a larger story in the background of their lives and that story is that of what’s next for New York City, specifically the Bronx. Mayoral elections are taking place where we learn of Ed Koch, and business owners who have investments at risk if he’s elected as mayor.
We see firsthand the crookedness of politics and how money hungry business owners sacrificed the Bronx for their own career goals in Downtown Manhattan.
It’s as if everything is stacked against the main characters life but somehow we know that Zeke reaches his goal because we were introduced to him with his older self, rapping to a large crowd under lights on a huge stage.
The reason you keep watching The Get Down is because you want to know how Zeke became successful and what happened to his friends from the year 1977 to 1990.
By the end of the first episode, every character has faced challenges in drugs, women, gang violence, and poverty and we know that The Get Down will be even more intense for viewers to watch in the coming of the second part.
In The Get Down, you will face challenges with each character in which they learn about their sexuality, their dreams, who they are in the streets, and their battle with morality.
The Get Down is a series in which no one can say was not directed wonderfully. Each character feels real and the problems they face will leave you questioning their responses to each situation throughout the first six episodes.
Once you’ve finished the last episode you will find yourself wondering what is next for the South Bronx, hip-hop and Mylene and Zeke.
We end the first part of the Get Down with some unity between Mylene and her family, but it also leaves us with unanswered issues that will have us intently waiting for the launch of the second part.
All in all, The Get Down is beautifully crafted, with exceptional acting and history storytelling that anyone can relate to whether you’ve lived in New York City or not. Until the second part, we can only imagine the mess Zeke will bring upon himself and wonder how he’ll get himself out of it.