There are two things that I've always loved: Hip Hop culture and anything related to the 1970s. So when Netflix first announced that they were premiering The Get Down, a series that told the story of the origins of Hip Hop in The Bronx during the '70s, I was extremely interested. When I finally got to watch the show this past March (I binge watched my favorite telenovela first), I was hooked.
The show followed the lives of MC Zeke a.k.a. "Books" (Justice Smith), DJ Shaolin Fantastic; brothers and fellow MCs Ra-Ra, Boo-Boo and Dizzee, and Zeke's love interest Mylene, who dreamt of being the next Donna Summer. Zeke and his boys made up The Get Down Brothers, a Hip Hop group surrounded by burning buildings, ruthless gangsters and shady politicians. Despite all that, The Get Down Brothers and the other rival DJs and MCs managed to transform the war zone that was The Bronx into a magical place with — to paraphrase Zeke's eloquent take on it — "grandmasters, men with the strength of Hercules, and an all-knowing Zulu nation." However, on May 24, 2017, fans of #TheGetDown learned that this strikingly beautiful and historically accurate show would not be returning for a second season. To put it lightly, I was not happy.
Other folks on Twitter shared my sentiment.
The Get Down trended on Twitter from approx. 10:00 PM that night, well into approximately 9:00 AM the next morning. After other fans and myself got through our initial anger, we later learned that the main reason for The Get Down being canceled was the whopping $120M in production costs it racked up. There were also production delays plaguing the series, which is the reason the first season was split into two parts. Other reports claimed the show had lackluster reviews and only 1/5 of the viewers compared to Orange is the New Black.
No disrespect intended, but I find that hard to believe seeing how people showed up in droves to celebrate the show returning for Part 2, and how they showed up in droves once again when it was announced that the show was coming to an end. On top of everything, creator Baz Luhrmann’s commitment to other projects hindered his ability to focus on The Get Down, which may have been the final nail in the coffin.
Despite all its issues, I still have to say that canceling The Get Down has to be one of the worst ideas in the long, drawn-out history of bad ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that #Netflix can’t afford to take on a project that’s practically burning through money and has constant delays, as well as a director that can't fully commit, but that doesn’t mean that the show should die. Allow me to explain why.
All Facets Of Hip-Hop Culture Are Explored
Every Hip Hop connoisseur knows that the birthplace of the culture was the Boogie Bronx, and that it’s made up of four components: the DJ, the MC, breakdancing and graffiti. When speaking on the subject of Hip Hop — namely when it’s depicted in movies and TV shows — most of the focus is on the MC. The DJ may get some recognition, but that’s about as far as it goes. The Get Down didn't do that. It spoke about all aspects of Hip Hop culture while in its infant stages.
Not only did the series emphasize where the culture was created, it showed how Zeke’s poetic nature led him to be a world renowned MC. We saw Shaolin Fantastic’s love for DJing and we followed Dizzee’s fight to have his graffiti artwork seen by the world. Last but not least, we saw the B-boys dancing to the slick beats coming from the turntables (sometimes Shao would take a break from DJing and hit the floor himself). By the way, did I mention the music was great?
Historical Events Of The 1970s Are Important Plot Points
One of the things I loved about The Get Down is that it incorporated historical occurrences into the plot. The infamous NYC blackout of 1977 took place during the third episode, and the mishap allowed the boys to steal the turntables and mixer they needed from Les Inferno, a local club run by gangsters. The show also touched on the fact that many other people looted stores around The Bronx during the blackout, stealing turntables and mixers.
As a result, more Hip Hop groups began to form around the borough, and the genre grew. Ed Koch’s mayoral campaign is also depicted, and Zeke and Francisco “Papa Fuerte” Cruz played important roles in it. Papa Fuerte reluctantly became a Koch supporter to gain finance for the subdivision he wants to build in The Bronx. Zeke is made to be the poster boy of Koch's run, thanks to his summer internship with Herbert Gunns, Koch’s right hand man (Gunns is a fictional character, by the way). Koch ended up winning the election, and his time in office affected The Get Down Brothers as well as Mylene. Koch had a stance on graffiti that was extremely negative, and he wanted it removed from the city completely. As a result, the police cracked down on graffiti artists in the city, which proved to be problematic for Dizzee and his love interest, Thor. Mylene is later coerced by Papa Fuerte, her uncle, to use her celebrity status to do an anti-graffiti PSA, despite not supporting Koch’s cause.
Everyone Was Represented And The Characters Were Intriguing
The cast of The Get Down was the true meaning of diversity. It had something for everyone — African-Americans, Latinos, Caucasians, LGBT, Hip-Hop heads and Disco lovers were all embodied in the storyline. Not only did the show represent different types of people, but it also had very interesting characters.
Zeke was an MC who was also on the verge of becoming a student at Yale. Papa Fuerte was a corrupt politician that committed illegal acts as a means to an end to help his community and his family. As a result, he was one of the more likable characters. On the flipside, Pastor Cruz, Mylene’s father, is considered to be a respected man of God, whereas he was actually a fanatical tyrant as well as an attention whore.
So Many Questions Will Be Unanswered!
For those of you that haven't watched The Get Down yet, this section of the article has SPOILERS. You've been forewarned.
The show’s season finale left us with so many unanswered questions. If the show ends where it left off, we’ll never know what happens with the characters.
How long will Boo and Papa Fuerte stay in jail? Now that Mylene knows that Papa Fuerte is her biological father, will she ever forgive her family for lying to her? Will Shaolin get away from Fat Annie’s clutches? Will Zeke stay enrolled at Yale (During his ’96 concert, I remember him saying that he never left The Bronx)? How did Zeke become a successful solo artist? What happened with the other Get Down Brothers? Will Zeke and Mylene stay together? Soon after 1979, Disco will die. What will folks that thrive on Disco music like Mylene and Cadillac do? Will Dizzee and Thor stay together? When his family and friends eventually learn that Dizzee is gay, how will they react?
I guess we'll never know.
So How Can The Get Down Return?
Considering that The Get Down was taken away due to extremely high production costs, the solution is simple: cut back. I realize that’s easier said than done, but it can be done. The animated sequences were adorable, but truth be told, we didn’t really need them, and they took away from the story. I love the gorgeous cinematography, but there has to be another way to recreate the beautiful shots without breaking the bank.
If Baz Luhrmann is unable to commit to The Get Down, then the people behind the scenes have to find someone just as passionate that can. With Nas as the executive producer, combined with the accolades the show has received so far, I’m sure there’s other people that would love to step up as a director. Fans of the show, you can do your part as well. There’s currently a petition on Change.org requesting to have the show return.
However, if Netflix still believes The Get Down shouldn’t be brought back, or if Baz Luhrmann thinks that the production costs shouldn’t be lowered, then there’s always the option of adapting it into a film. Other streaming sites may be interested in picking the project up if they decide to keep The Get Down going as a TV series, such as Hulu or Amazon Prime. The executive producers can go old school (pun slightly intended) and speak with HBO, Cinemax, Showtime or Starz.
I have to be honest: I grew up during the ‘80s and ‘90s, so today’s Hip-Hop doesn’t interest me quite as much as the old school stuff does. Don’t get me wrong, I like some new school artists like Drake, Lil’ Dicky and Kendrick Lamar (I especially love “Humble”), but there’s times that I yearn for the days of Tupac and Biggie, not to mention LL Cool J, Salt ‘N Pepa, and MC Lyte, just to name a few.
When I watched The Get Down, I was immediately stirred by this story about teenagers learning about the existence of this new culture and embracing it. I was so moved that after I watched the first season of the show, the next show I binge watched was the four part documentary Hip Hop Evolution.
Seeing how people reacted to Part 2 of the first season, as well as the show's cancellation, I wasn’t the only person enthralled by it. The Get Down Brothers’ story doesn’t have to end just yet, especially given there’s so much more of it to tell and so many people want to see it. With The Get Down's slammin' music, intriguing characters and even more interesting storylines, what's not to love? Bring back those boys from The Bronx (alliteration slightly intended).
So what do y'all think? Is canceling The Get Down the worst idea ever, or do think it should stay gone? Is there any hope of bringing the series back, or do you think it's dead and buried? Let me know in the comments section!