'The Get Down': The 5 Worst Excuses For Not Watching Netflix's Hidden Treasure

the get down
The Get Down stars from left to right: Skylan Brooks, Justice Smith, Tremaine Brown Jr., Shameik Moore, and Jaden Smith. (c) Netflix

The Get Down is a goddamn tour-de-force, a whirlwind Netflix original series from executive producer Baz Luhrmann that mythologizes the rise of hip-hop from a local Bronx phenomenon to a bona-fide global sensation. Set in the late ‘70s on the eve of NYC Mayor Ed Koch’s election with the Bronx burning in the background, The Get Down manages to avoid poverty porn and voyeuristic depictions of tortured inner-city youths for a dramatic, romantic, hopeful, period-accurate, fun and moving show.

Yet the amount of The Get Down engagement I’ve seen online compared to other Netflix originals like Orange Is The New Black, Narcos and Stranger Things is itty-bitty teenie-weenie. Dude, why? Why are people refusing to watch this show? Here’s the 5 worst excuses I’ve seen people offer.

1. The Get Down is not my genre.

First of all, let’s go ahead and quit making “there’s mostly brown people in this” a genre. Second of all, let’s stop refusing to watch some of the best entertainment out there due to this flimsy excuse! Hold my hand: you don’t need a Piper. You don’t need a white entry character to enjoy The Get Down. You don’t.

I have never seen this excuse used with any other Netflix show, but suddenly The Get Down hits and people are huddled around their genre bonfires, throwing up the sign of the cross and hissing into the night as nonbeliever genres slink around the fire. “I only watch fantasy!” “I only like sci-fi!” “No wizards, no watch!”

Drama? The Get Down has it in spades, from a disgraced music producer’s journey to redemption, to the aching love story of a couple separated yet close enough to touch for seventeen long years, to the story of a burgeoning criminal empire and all the crime and horror that entails.  

Romance? The Get Down has it. And it’s not even all heterosexual! Blessed be.

Magical realism? The Get Down has it in great, massive, heaping spoonfuls. There’s no wizards, but there’s at least one Grandmaster.

Comedy? The Get Down stars a crew of teenagers who have no idea what they’re doing even as they invent graffiti and hip-hop, counter-culture movements that will sweep the world. They’re hilarious.

No, it’s not Game of Thrones, but neither is it some dreary documentary droning on about how being poor and brown and in the Bronx in the ‘70s sucked. The Get Down draws from a huge range of influences and is inspired by history, not slavishly beholden to it. (I consider that a blessing, not a botch or a curse.)

2. I hate Jaden Smith.

This is so bizarre to me, yet check out the comments section for any article on The Get Down featuring Jaden Smith and you’re bound to see James T. Breadwinner pursing his seamed mouth over this inoffensive Smith child.

“He’s weird!” cries Bobby Q. Average.

“His Twitter sucks!” wails Susie W. Homemaker.

“He can’t act!” whines Reginald R. Wah the III. “He only got this job because of his family!”

Three bits of news for Bobby, Susie, Reginald and James:

  • Nepotism is a Hollywood staple. Don’t blame the Smith kids for something Lena Dunham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Douglas and the entire Sheen stable have benefited from.

  • Jaden’s role as Dizzee Kipling uses the actor’s spacey vibe to great effect with a character that benefits massively from Jaden’s otherworldly charisma.

  • Jaden’s role is minor anyway.

Seriously, Jaden hasn’t done anything to you or your dog, guys. Refusing to watch The Get Down because he’s in it is like refusing to eat ice cream because you’re pissed as hell that pistachio is a flavor. Get over it.

3. I don’t like hip-hop.

I don’t like drugs, but I can still watch Narcos.

I don’t like prison, but I can still watch Orange Is The New Black.

I don’t like monsters, but I can still watch Stranger Things.

I don’t like politics, but I can still watch House of Cards.

You follow what I’m saying here? You don’t need to like hip-hop or know anything about the genre in order to enjoy The Get Down . In fact, The Get Down features soul, funk, gospel, hip-hop, disco and even an all-new track by Christina Aguilera, written and performed expressly for the show. Mylene’s actress, Herizen Guardiola, has the voice of an angel; even the lightest flutter of her vocalizations is trance-inducing.

Trust me: you can be a Sufjan Stevens superfan and still find a vast amount of enjoyment in The Get Down. The soundtrack is the most enjoyable revelation of a soundtrack in recent memory.

4. I don’t like Baz Luhrmann.

Baz’s fever-dream style is not for everyone. Though I’m a big fan of his work in Romeo+Juliet and Moulin Rouge, there are people who feel that his style prioritizes flash over substance and that his editing is weak.

Good news: Luhrmann only directs the first episode. The other five episodes (only six episodes! So short, so sweet!) are directed by other people following his executive vision. While the plot rolls on apace, the editing, uh, calms down a little after the pilot. (I have no complaints about the pilot, but some were turned off by what they felt were excessive jump cuts or whatever.)

The first twenty minutes of episode five are in fact so compellingly well-edited and such a triumphant, visionary, incredible culmination of everything that has passed in the show to that point that I wish people would watch that far just to get chills like I did.

5. I can’t relate to any of the characters.

Someone who has seen The Get Down would understand that this is the poorest and most transparent excuse not to watch the show.

If, after watching The Get Down, you feel like you can’t relate to any of the characters: fine, that’s your opinion.

But how do you know whether or not you can relate to any of the characters before you even watch the show? Because they’re poor? Because they’re black? Because they’re Hispanic? Because they’re from the Bronx? Because they’re from the inner city? Because they’re from the ‘70s? Because they’re kids? Really, let’s nail down the reason together. You’ve not seen the show, but you know you can’t relate to the characters, because…. because…. ?

The Get Down features a man in disgrace desperately seeking redemption, a girl fighting to escape suffocating religious parents, a stable two-parent family that owns their own business, a set of three brothers who love and support each other, three girls who are ride or die for each other, a serious boy who’s wildly in love, a charming and powerful sociopath with the keys to the city, an artsy space cadet, a Star Wars nerd, at least two kung fu nerds, many different stories of love from familial to platonic to romantic… I mean… there is a wide sampling plate of humanity present in this show.

You’ll find someone to relate to.

Have you come up with an unbeatable excuse for not giving The Get Down a try? Or will you watch The Get Down so I can talk to more people about this incredible Netflix original show? Feel free to talk about The Get Down in our comments section below.


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