Is Netflix's big-budget new musical drama series The Get Down worth watching?


The Get Down launched on Netflix on Friday, and the musical drama series about the birth of hip-hop has received a mixed bag of reviews.

Set in a decaying New York in the 1970s, the gritty drama follows the lives of a group of South Bronx teenagers as they scale the art and music scene to create something special.

The glamorous, big-budget series also includes a look at locations such as the iconic Studio 54 and the glass towers of the just-built World Trade Centre towers, taking audiences back to the heady but difficult 1970s in the Big Apple.

It's The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann's first TV effort and, with each episode costing a reported £7.7 million to make, there is plenty of hype around the programme.

Justice Smith stars as Ezekiel "Books" Figuero, Shameik Moore as Shaolin Fantastic and Herizen F Guardiola as Mylene Cruz, a group of teens in the city, and also Jimmy Smits as a South Bronx political boss called Francisco "Papa Fuerte" Cruz.

Jaden Smith, the son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, is also in the series as Dizzee Kipling.

The early reviews, which have come in just hours after the first six episodes from the 12-part series debuted on Netflix, have seen critics in two minds.

The Get Down

The Telegraph's Tim Martin was full of praise for the show, giving it a four out of five star review.

He wrote: "Its feature-length first episode was a firework splurge of Luhrmanniac energy, introducing us to a cast of musical children trying to find their place in the South Bronx of 1977 amid urban decay, riots, blackouts, arson and gang violence."

He also added that, while it is "narratively messy, frequently caricatured and tonally all over the shop", it is "also a work of Class A magic and wonder". He also opined that it is Baz's "greatest ensemble of actors since his 1997 triumph Romeo + Juliet".

The Get Down

However, The A.V. Club's Joshua Alston dubbed the programme "beautiful" but also "boring" and claimed it was "unbingeable", going against what Netflix is known for.

He said that the series being confined to 1977 means the show "lacks the intentional anachronisms so common to Luhrmann's work. But it has every bit of the dazzle and whimsy Luhrmann is known for." The reviewer went on to suggest that "part of the problem is The Get Down's refusal to settle into a groove" thanks to the plethora of so many "styles and ideas".

Time's critic Daniel D'Addario has said it "misses too many beats" and added that Luhrmann's "impulse to concoct an overwhelming canvas works against him", while The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman said it "gets off to a bad start, but improves as it goes along".

The Get Down

"Some will grow bored with the style when the substance falters," wrote USA Today's Robert Bianco, before adding that "others will be enchanted - particularly those who feel it's time hip-hop finally got its own cinematic celebration".

Entertainment Weekly's Jeff Jensen gave it a mixed review, describing the 90-minute pilot episode as "exciting and messy, sublime and cornball".

TV fans at home were mostly positive about the show, though, with plenty of them airing their praise for The Get Down on Twitter.

The next six episodes are available to watch on Netflix in 2017.