'The Get Down' Is Cancelled And THAT Is The Wackness

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

Turns out there won’t be a Season 2 of The Get Down after all. The Get Down, a rare jewel of a show that gave voice to a place and to people often disregarded, erased and ignored, is no more. Executive producer Baz Luhrmann stated in a lengthy Facebook post that his lack of direct involvement with a future Season 2 of The Get Down was the key sticking point:

“When I was asked to come to the center of The Get Down to help realize it, I had to defer a film directing commitment for at least two years. This exclusivity has understandably become a sticking point for Netflix and Sony, who have been tremendous partners and supporters of the show. It kills me that I can’t split myself into two and make myself available to both productions… But the simple truth is, I make movies,” Lurhmann wrote.

The Get Down is too good a show to go like this, no matter how neatly its Part 2 wrapped up. To get murked with little fanfare from a service that throws money at anything and drags shows out far past their peak is a much worse fate than The Get Down, with all its heart and its cast of bright young stars, deserves.

“But the money,” I can hear commenters crying in the distance.

Not everything is about the money. Netflix appeared to be one of the few platforms that grokked that, taking gambles on shows about people no one cared about, from perspectives not often explored. And, sure, they paid for eight Adam Sandler movies too, but that’s how they make their money, right?

The Get Down is that rare piece of media in which the Bronx does something other than burn. It is that rare piece of media in which black and Hispanic people of all ages are allowed as much human diversity of expression as their white colleagues, because there’s not a single token character with the entire weight of a full race’s representation on their shoulders but a full and fully-realized cast instead.

It is a show about poor people that isn’t poverty porn, a show about black and Hispanic characters that didn’t feel the need to insert a gratuitous white lead to gently shepherd Caucasian viewers into caring about all these brown kids, a show about music with a dynamite soundtrack, a show that was positive at its heart despite the tremendous obstacles its lead characters faced at every turn.

“But Baz Luhrmann’s style,” I can hear commenters crying in the distance.

Extravagant, lavish, spendthrift, over-the-top: none of that’s good for a budget or a production. But to have that romantic, grand, over-the-top aesthetic settle over the Bronx? The Bronx, that never gets this love? To have that shine settle over a ragtag group of poor black and Hispanic kids who rarely get to be treated with such affection, appreciation and respect, even in fiction? It is priceless. It is worth the dollar tag. (The dollar tag which was not the reason cited for its cancellation anyway.)

But fucking Marco Polo, which is unwatchable, got a second season. 13 Reasons Why, a show about mental illness and suicide that suicidal and mentally ill people shouldn't watch, has been renewed despite being egregious, voyeuristic trauma porn (and despite being done! Did the 13 reasons suddenly turn into 26?!). Orange is the New Black hasn’t been good for at least two seasons now but it’s limping along to Season 5 anyway.

So now The Get Down, which is a great show starring great actors with great people working behind the camera and a great vision behind it all, now gets stamped as Netflix’s first big failure, its first major one-and-done, the first show for even Netflix to decide “ehhhh, not worth it.” The story of hip-hop’s beginnings, a black and Hispanic story, a Bronx story, a poor story, a story without formal education or pedigree but without pretension or apology - that’s the big failure. That’s the one that wasn’t worth the money. The Get Down becomes the warning others will point to the next time an opportunity to tell a story like this comes up.

That’s devastating. I’m devastated.

While Luhrmann pointed to ideas for the future of The Get Down that aren’t a second season, it’s inevitable that these approaches will lack Netflix’s reach and that’s a damned shame. That is the wackness. I can only hope that someone somewhere will pick up the mantle left behind by The Get Down, take that inspiration and get to work. I can only hope that The Get Down is the first of its kind, not the last. But this is one cancellation that leaves a bitter taste behind

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