The Get Down is an American musical drama television series created by Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis. It premiered its six-episode first part globally on August 12, 2016 on Netflix. Produced by Sony Pictures Television, the series is set in the South Bronx section of New York City in the late 1970s and its title refers to parts of disco and R&B records that could be repeated using multiple turntables and were enjoyed most by dancers. A five-episode second part concluding the series was released on April 7, 2017. On May 24, 2017, Netflix cancelled the series after one season.
The series is set in the Bronx, New York City in the 1970s and follows the rise of hip-hop and disco music through the eyes of a group of teenagers. Each episode begins with MC Books, a famous artist that raps his story to a large crowd during a concert in 1996. The short rap serves both as a recap of previous episodes and as a set up of the events of the next. Each episode is also intercut with real footage and newscasts from the 1970s.
The first part of the first season begins in 1977 with Zeke (young MC Books), a young poet who lives with his aunt Wanda following the death of his parents. He meets Shaolin Fantastic, a graffiti artist and aspiring DJ. The two band together with Zeke’s friends to become “The Get Down Brothers” with a dream to become successful music artists and take over the city. Mylene, Zeke’s long time love, dreams of becoming a disco singer and leaving the Bronx but faces obstacles, such as her religious father. Alongside this, the show depicts the various gangs and gangsters, especially Fat Annie and her son Cadillac, as well as observing the poverty and violence faced by those living in the Bronx.
The second part of the first season is set in 1978 and sees the group facing adulthood and their future in the music industry.
- Justice Smith as Ezekiel “Zeke” “Books” Figuero: A smart, resourceful teen, brimming with untapped talent and unrequited love, who is determined to make his mark in this world. He is in love with Mylene, but her desire to leave the Bronx hinders their relationship.
- Shameik Moore as Curtis “Shaolin Fantastic”: A child of the streets; thrill-seeking, unpredictable, and eccentric but, above all, enigmatic. He is distrustful of Mylene and sees her as a distraction to Ezekiel.
- Herizen F. Guardiola as Mylene Cruz: A tenacious girl with an incredible voice who dreams of becoming a disco star, a dream that is far outside the realm of her fiercely religious background. She loves Ezekiel, but fears that he won’t ever leave the Bronx.
- Skylan Brooks as Ronald “Raa-Raa” Kipling: A loyal, respected, protective friend and brother with his head screwed on tight, he’s the voice of reason beyond his years.
- Tremaine Brown Jr. as Miles “Boo-Boo” Kipling: A mechanically minded kid who is an irrepressible 40-year-old in a 14-year-old’s body.
- Jaden Smith as Marcus “Dizzee” Kipling : The most artistically minded of the Kipling brothers, Dizzee is a graffiti artist who tags as Rumi 411.
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Clarence “Cadillac” Caldwell: A “fly gangster”, prince of the disco world, and son of the owner of the most notorious after-hours night spot in the Bronx.
- Jimmy Smits as Francisco “Papa Fuerte” Cruz: A South Bronx political boss who delivers services to his constituents that the city has failed to provide, such as jobs, housing and healthcare.
- Daveed Diggs as adult Ezekiel “Mr. Books” Figuero: He rap-narrates the series. His rapping voice is dubbed by hip hop artist Nas.
- Giancarlo Esposito as Pastor Ramon Cruz: Papa Fuerte’s brother and Mylene’s father, the charismatic head of the local Pentecostal church who attracts a flock of followers with his fiery sermons and firm, steady leadership.
- Stefanée Martin as Yolanda Kipling: Sister of Boo-Boo, Dizzee and Ra-Ra. One of Mylene’s best friends and a member of the Soul Madonnas.
- Shyrley Rodriguez as Regina: Another one of Mylene’s best friends. She is outrageous and a rebel, who’s in an abusive relationship with Little Wolf and a member of the Soul Madonnas.
- Mamoudou Athie as Grandmaster Flash: Hip-hop recording artist and DJ. He is considered to be one of the pioneers of hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing. He serves as a mentor for Shaolin Fantastic as well as the rest of the Get Down Brothers.
- Karen Aldridge as Adele Kipling: Mother of Yolanda, Boo-Boo, Dizzee and Ra-Ra.
- Kevin Corrigan as Jackie Moreno: A record producer.
- Brandon J. Dirden as Leon: Wanda’s boyfriend.
- Michel Gill as Herbert Gunns: A New York City Counselor.
- Zabryna Guevara as Lydia Cruz: The wife of pastor Ramon Cruz and the mother of Mylene.
- Ron Cephas Jones as Winston Kipling: Father of Yolanda, Boo-Boo, Dizzee and Ra-Ra.
- Judy Marte as Wanda: Ezekiel’s aunt.
- Evan Parke
- Sal Rendino as Stanley Kelly
- Yolonda Ross as Ms. Green: The caring but tough English teacher who nurtures the potential in her students and advocates for them to pursue their talents.
- Tory Devon Smith as Little Wolf: Regina’s abusive boyfriend and one of the neighborhood’s dealers.
- Lillias White as Fat Annie: Owner of the Les Inferno-club and mother of Cadillac.
- Frank Wood as Ed Koch: A member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 18th district and Democratic primary of the New York City mayoral election, 1977. Koch has a tough stance against crime (particularly graffiti) and wants to restore public safety back to New York City, so he reluctantly allies himself with Papa Fuerte to help in his campaign in the Bronx.
- Lee Tergesen as Inspector Moach
- Eric Bogosian as Roy Asheton: Record executive and president of Marrakech Star, a disco label, responsible for the success of Donna Summer and Misty Holloway.
- Eric D. Hill Jr. as DJ Kool Herc: DJ who is credited with originating hip hop music in the early 1970s in The Bronx, New York City. He serves as a mentor for the Notorious Three (The Herculoids).
- Noah Le Gros as Thor: A graffiti artist who lives a free lifestyle and Dizzee’s love interest.
- Qaasim Middleton as DJ Big Planet, a member of The Notorious Three (The Herculoids), the mortal enemies of The Get Down Brothers.
- RayJonaldy Rodriguez as Silent Carlito, a member of The Notorious Three (The Herculoids), the mortal enemies of The Get Down Brothers.
- Khalil Middleton as MC Luke Skywalker Cage, a member of The Notorious 3 (The Herculoids), the mortal enemies of The Get Down Brothers.
- Julia Garner as Claudia Gunns: Daughter of Herbert Gunns.
- Barrington Walters Jr. as Doo-Wop, street-hardened little roughneck drug dealer.
- Jeremie Harris as Shane Vincent: Mylene Cruz’s manager.
- Okieriete Onaodowan as Afrika Bambaataa
- Jamie Jackson as Robert Stigwood
- Billy Porter as DJ Malibu, a DJ at Les Inferno
- Annika Boras
- Alexis Krause as Leslie Lesgold
- Renée Elise Goldsberry as Misty Holloway
- Bryce Pinkham as Julien
- Imani Lewis as Tanya
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|Part 1 (1977)|
|1||“Where There Is Ruin, There Is Hope for a Treasure”||Baz Luhrmann||Story by : Baz Luhrmann & Stephen Adly Guirgis
Teleplay by : Baz Luhrmann & Stephen Adly Guirgis & Seth Zvi Rosenfeld
|August 12, 2016|
In Bronx, 1977, Zeke is a teenage high school student in love with his friend Mylene. Mylene wishes to escape the Bronx and become a singer, so she and her friends plan on impressing a DJ that night at a the Les Inferno club. Hoping to impress her, Zeke gets the record of a rare recording of her favorite song. However, a popular graffiti artist by the name of Shaolin Fantastic is instructed to acquire the same record by Grandmaster Flash, another DJ who has promised to mentor him if he can procure the record. After a chase Zeke ends up with the record but then struggles to gain access to the club. Once inside Mylene gains the attention of Cadillac, son of the owner, and a gangster. He asks Mylene to dance with him during the dance off. When Shao sees Zeke the two discuss why they both need the record. Shao, who is impressed by Zeke’s wordsmithing, tells him he’ll get Zeke into the club as long as he gets the record by the end of the night. Zeke and Mylene dance to the song, kissing each other. However, a gang shootout happens within the club, killing the DJ and several others, with Zeke, Mylene, and her friends barely getting away. Bringing her home, Zeke confesses his love for her, but it is unrequited despite her feelings for him, as she believes his reluctance to fulfill his life will stop her from leaving the Bronx if they were to fall in love. Zeke hands over the record to Shao who explains it’s for a DJing technique called “the get down,” and Shao brings Zeke and his friends to a club. Here, Shao gives the record to Grandmaster Flash, who uses it for the get down, creating a consistent, never-ending beat with a second record that’s never been done before. Shao and Zeke then impress the entire club with Shao’s dancing and Zeke’s freestyle rapping abilities, Shao bringing Zeke and his friends to his home. Meanwhile, Mylene has run away after being beaten by her father, going to her uncle, Papa Fuerte, a political figure hoping to improve the neighborhoods. Zeke and Shao discuss their future, the two hoping to team up and use their music to take the city by storm.
|2||“Seek Those Who Fan Your Flames”||Ed Bianchi||Sam Bromell & Sinead Daly & Jacqui Rivera||August 12, 2016|
|Grandmaster Flash begins his training of Shaolin Fantastic. He begins by giving him the “key” which is a crayon and twenty-four hours to figure out its use. Whilst the other boys give up and leave Shao and Zeke stay overnight and realize the crayon is used to mark the get down point on the records. After further explanations, Grandmaster instructs Shao to perfect one record using his techniques. After working for a while the boys take a break and return to discover that his home has been set on fire, destroying his records and turn tables. Meanwhile, Mylene’s uncle Papa Fuerte arranges for a music producer to listen to her sing in church. Just before the service begins however Mylene’s father tells her she will no longer sing solos due to her recent actions and foray into disco music. As the choir sings the producer starts to leave so Mylene defies her father’s wishes and sings to stop him from leaving. Also, Cadillac looks into who ordered the shoot out at Les Inferno. Whilst doing so he ends up shooting a young boy from a rival gang.|
|3||“Darkness Is Your Candle”||Andrew Bernstein||T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper & Stephen Adly Guirgis||August 12, 2016|
This episode is set in July during a city wide blackout. Mylene’s father kicks her out following her performance at the church and she stays with the Kipling family. Her uncle continues to help her reach her dreams but is visited by her mother, Lydia, who explains how her family is breaking apart. Moreno, the producer who saw Mylene in church, talks Papa Fuerte into independently recording a demo before taking it to a big record company. Moreno and Mylene struggle to agree on a song for her to sing but after opening up to each other he agrees to write a new song for her. After losing all of his possessions in the fire Shao returns to Fat Annie in order to make money. She invites him into her family which doesn’t go down well with her son Cadillac. He instructs Shao to dispose of his car. Zeke and the other boys look for jobs in order to help Shao raise money for new turntables. When the Kipling parents leave for a family funeral the kids throw a party (and charge for entry) playing a mix-tape of Grandmaster’s work which they purchase from a local store. Playing his music breaks the “no biting” and so gangsters arrive to break up the party and trash the salon. Shao, Zeke and the boys discover the body of the boy Cadillac shot in the trunk of his car. They dump the body in a lake before committing to take care of each other as “The Get Down” brothers and vowing to stop Cadillac and his violent ways. Zeke and Mylene meet up to discuss recent events and sleep together.
|4||“Forget Safety, Be Notorious”||Ed Bianchi||Aaron Rahsaan Thomas||August 12, 2016|
Following the vandalism and looting that occurred during the blackout Mayor Beame informs Papa Fuerte he can no longer provide him the $10 million needed for his restoration and housing plans. In response, Fuerte takes back his promise to ensure Beame enough votes to win during the upcoming Mayoral election. Fuerte is approached by Ed Koch, another mayoral hopefully, who wants the same deal as Beame with conditions that Fuerte comes out against graffiti. Ms. Green, Zeke’s English teacher, continues to try and support his academic and creative abilities but meeting with his aunt. The two women agree that Zeke should take up an internship and he agrees to take one with Fuerte, which also please Mylene. Shao and Mylene continue to disagree about the other’s influence on Zeke forcing him to choose between helping Mylene track down Moreno and fixing Shao’s relationship with Grandmaster. GM has banned Shao from mixing following the bootlegged mixtape being used at the Kipling party. Zeke decides to help Shao which leads them into Herculoid territory and an ambush. Mylene and her friends find Moreno and manage to revive him following an OD and take him to Fuerte who isn’t happy that he has wasted his money, meant for Mylene’s demo, on drugs. Dizzee bonds with Thor, a fellow graffiti artist and it is revealed that Regina is in an abusive relationship with a dealer named Little Wolf.
|5||“You Have Wings, Learn to Fly”||Michael Dinner||Seth Zvi Rosenfeld||August 12, 2016|
|Whilst hunting down the person responsible for the bootlegged tapes, the Get Down Brothers run into DJ Kool Herc but manage to prove it was one of his own men. He challenges the boys to a DJ battle against the Notorious Three. Grandmaster lifts Shao’s ban so he can compete. Meanwhile Pastor Cruz confronts Papa Fuerte and is shocked to see Mylene there. Fuerte reminds Cruz of his past sins before Moreno, trying to defuse the situations, explains he wants Mylene to record a hymn with a disco twist in his church. Cruz agrees and makes peace with his daughter when he hears the final song. Zeke is late to his interview but after some hard truths fro Ms. Green goes back and fights for his internship with Gunn. At the same time he works with Shao and the Kipling brothers to prepare for the upcoming battle discovering they each have different musical skills. When Mylene comes to play her record to Zeke, Shao realizes a beat in her record is the missing link for their performance and forcibly takes a copy causing an argument between Glendale and Shao. The episode ends with the Get Down brothers finding the brother of the boy killed by Cadillac on their roof.|
|6||“Raise Your Words, Not Your Voice”||Ed Bianchi||Seth Zvi Rosenfeld & Sam Bromell||August 12, 2016|
|Part 2 (1978)|
|7||“Unfold Your Own Myth”||Lawrence Trilling||Stephen Adly Guirgis||April 7, 2017|
|8||“The Beat Says, This Is the Way”||Ed Bianchi||Aaron Rahsaan Thomas||April 7, 2017|
|9||“One by One, Into the Dark”||Clark Johnson||Nelson George||April 7, 2017|
|10||“Gamble Everything”||Ed Bianchi||Seth Zvi Rosenfeld||April 7, 2017|
|11||“Only from Exile Can We Come Home”||Ed Bianchi||Sam Bromell & Jacqui Rivera||April 7, 2017|
The series was announced in February 2015, after Luhrmann had spent over ten years developing the concept. The series is described as “a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco”. The Sony Pictures Television show takes place in Bronx tenements, the SoHo art scene, CBGB, Studio 54 and the just-built World Trade Center. On April 9, 2015, it was announced that Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Skylan Brooks, Jaden Smith, and newcomer Tremaine (TJ) Brown Jr. would play the show’s lead male roles. On April 16, 2015 it was announced that newcomer Herizen Guardiola would play the show’s female lead.
Rap legends Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow and Nas hosted a Hip-Hop boot camp to educate the young actors. The production crew used the Eisner Award-winning comic series Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskoras a reference point.
The trailer for part two was released in February 2017, with episodes being made available on Netflix on April 7, 2017. The series picked up a year later in 1978. The accompanying soundtrack was released on April 21, 2017.
Part One has been positively reviewed with a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the critic consensus reading “The Get Down‘s vibrant music and energetic young cast help to elevate its meandering narrative.” The show has a score of 69 out of 100 based on 31 reviews on Metacritic which is classified as “generally favorable reviews”. The show has been well received by Netflix users earning a five star rating.
Many critics[who?] have praised the uptempo musical numbers and soundtrack as well as the performances from the main cast and cinematography of the show. Whilst some negative reviews[who?] have criticized overly dramatic love story and sometimes “cartoonish” violence which detract from the darker, authentic feel of the show and its setting. Reviews improved with later episodes as critics felt that the series had toned down its more outlandish and over the top elements in favor of a more cohesive and balanced episode structure.
|2016 Hollywood Music in Media Awards|
|Best Outstanding Music Supervision – Television||Stephanie Diaz-Matos||Nominated|
|2017 MPSE Golden Reel Awards|
|Best Music Editor – Television Short Form||Jamieson Shaw||Won|
|Best Music Editor – Television Long Form||Jamieson Shaw||Nominated|
- Music of The Get Down
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