Two Golden Globes. One globe for the show itself and the other for Gael García Bernal's extraordinary work as Rodrigo, an eccentric Maestro who takes over the New York Philharmonic in Season One. I binge watched Season Two not long ago. And then yesterday, more good news. The show was renewed for a third season.
But here is the problem. Amazon calls this show a musical comedy. Which I guess is MILDLY accurate. But that's like calling, "ET: The Extraterrestrial" science fiction. I mean, yes, the little adorable dude was an alien from outer space. But that movie was NOT about lightsabers or Guardians listening to 70's music!
When Elliot is RIPPED from the arms of a helpless and dying ET, with the primal screams of yearning that followed, my heart shattered. ET is a movie about broken lives and rising above it all, that just happened to include an extraterrestrial.
So sure, Mozart In The Jungle has comedic beats. And yeah, it's a musical of sorts. But that's just window dressing. There are some REALLY GREAT STORIES being told about imperfect human beings, the endless complexities of artists, the magic of collaboration and the tragedy found behind closed doors.
Dramatis Personae - The Cliff Notes
Of course, as mentioned, there is Rodrigo, our Mad Hatter Maestro. Bernal's nuanced rendering is like a (25) year old bourbon lingering in your mouth for a few extra moments. There are so many beautiful layers to this character.
The Maestro is stupendously self-involved and yet utterly humble, all in the same breathe. He is relentless and demanding while being gentle and kind. Ever the tortured soul, we can't help but root for him. Bringing things to the edge, his occasional arguments with famous dead composers. A delight to watch.
Malcolm McDowell plays the ousted conductor, Thomas Pembridge. And he does so brilliantly! Wherein Rodrigo's self-obsession is more as a function of his genius, Pembridge is just self-obsessed. And neurotic. And a bit of an ass. But with time, we come to love him for all of these qualities.
In one of the final episodes of Season Two, Rodrigo and Pembridge get high on some kind of exotic hallucinogenic. The scene plays more like a childhood sleepover but with all the confessions and intoxication of adulthood. It was a wonderfully sculpted scene.
Two other characters I love to take strolls with are the young oboist, Hailey, played by Lola Kirke and Bernadette Peters as Gloria Windsor, the Board Chair of the symphony.
There is a subtle, older man - younger woman vibe going on between Hailey and The Maestro. But the way it's written and acted, the cliche is nowhere to be found. In many ways, Hailey is coming into her own but not perfectly.
You see THAT is what I love most about Mozart In The Jungle, that one line ... but not perfectly. The character work is so real and honest that we become deeply invested, even with minor characters. Dialogue is rarely wasted. Everything feels organic, not forced.
Another lovely character arc has been Gloria Windsor, especially in Season Two. Like good indie films, the show takes its time to develop its characters and storylines. In the case of the Gloria Windsor, Season Two offers us a more complex glimpse of this socialite and her love of the symphony. As always, Peters, an award-winning veteran of Broadway, delivers exceptional work.
And as a side note, I hope I look even remotely that good at 67!
Ultimately– Mozart Is About The Moments
There are many. The symphony being dragged to a dirt laden patch between two old buildings for a rehearsal. Parties that are really more about finding one's truth than the actual party itself. Coming of age stories that are not overplayed or clinical. They just co-exist with other storylines about aging and politics.
It's the humanity of this Amazon show that so angers me. Yes, angers me. Amazon only gives this finely painted mosaic a mere 22 minutes an episode. Alas, the number crunchers that now make decisions about art STILL don't see the gold they possess, in spite of two Golden Globes. They should have done more than merely renew the series, they should have bumped it to one hour!
I love a certain kind of pouring down rain on a certain kind of day, in a certain kind of cafe. When all three come together at once, the Universe aligns.
It's about the taste of the food, the plethora of smells, coffeehouse banter, the texture of old wood floors, perhaps reading a good book. It's about the energy and the people. Life is happening. And by some weird quirk of circumstance, I get to ride the wave that day. I get to feel fully alive.
That is Mozart In The Jungle.