Another month, another Netflix show to rave about.
In the month of August, director Baz Luhrmann, co creators and Netflix, released the late 70’s themed hip hop musical show, “The Get Down”. With Luhrmann’s colorful directing style, the show centers on a group of teenagers, growing up in the projects of Bronx, New York during the fall of disco and rise of hip hop and rap music. The main cast are Black and Latinx, teenagers with goals and ambitions to be a somebody, and not just a someone.
Teens of color who want to express themselves and their views, on a world that hates them, a government that neglects them, and friends and family that love and support them, all through music. In just six episodes, “The Get Down” tackles underlying messages of sexuality, feminism, race relations, and the importance of individualism, making “The Get Down” the one to watch. With season 2 expected to premiere in 2017, who are the teen characters we want to know and love?
The main character breakdowns of The Get Down: *MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*
Nicknamed, “Zeke”, Ezekiel, is a mixed teen, both Black and Puerto Rican, raised by his aunt and her boyfriend, after his parents have been killed. Ezekiel is later given nicknames such as “Wordsmith” and “Books”, due to his literate nature and his natural way with writing, and reciting poems. Ezekiel is a soft, optimistic and notably overly smart teen.
Almost each episode begins with a future Ezekiel, played by Daveed Diggs, who’s rapping is voice dubbed by Nas the rapper, as a successful artist performing in a large stadium with tens of thousands of cheering fans as he raps about his childhood.
Teenager Ezekiel, doesn’t realize his potential yet, but those around him recognize that he can lead a future bigger than the Bronx, including his english teacher, Ms. Greene and the love of his life, Mylene, whose desire to leave the bronx and become a successful disco star, breaks Ezekiel’s heart, nonetheless is her number one supporter. Later friendships, requited love and life changing experiences, reminds Ezekiel of his talents, and that the future is based on what he does right now.
An apprentice to Grandmaster Flash, ‘Shao’ wants to break the scene as being a great DJ mixer. Shao lives a fast paced life that matches the life he leads in the underground new coming hip hop scene. Shao is always on his next adventure and befriends Ezekiel after a few run-ins.
Shao has Ezekiel be his new ‘Wordsmith”, but is resentful towards the place that Mylene has in Ezekiel’s, only because Shao believes that no friend or lover is worth ruining your dreams, and is always reminding Ezekiel of that. At first Shao, was a legend among the Bronx kids, with his running, flying, kicking techniques and his famous red Pumas. Shaolin progresses over the series as fire to a single flame. From having no friends to becoming ‘The Get Down Brothers’, Shao has left his previous life of isolation and embraced friendship.
Young, vibrant, musically talented aspiring disco star, and the daughter of
conservative pastor of the Pentecostal church, Ramon Cruz and his wife Lydia Cruz, Mylene lives a double life. With the support of her girlfriends, Yolanda and Regina, Mylene plans to become the successor of her disco idols, Donna Summer and Diana Ross.
Mylene goes through the hardships of trying to become a breakout star, all behind her parents back and their disapproval. Mylene also goes through the emotional turmoil with her childhood best friend Ezekiel, who she later realizes she has feelings for, but comes to the idea that love is not what she needs right now however, stardom is. Mylene also encourages Ezekiel to take ownership of his talents, so he can leave the Bronx with her.
Her uncle, Pape Fuertes, is the head of the Community MultiCultural Center, and through his money and influence, helps bring his to help
Mylene fulfill her dreams of becoming a star. One Sunday morning at her father’s church, after bursting into a rendition of Machines disco song, “There But For The Grace of God, There Go I,” Papa Fuertes, has musical producer, Jackie Moreno attend the service to scout her and take her under his wings.
At the age of 16, the reality of gunfights, being kicked out of her home by
her parents and breaking off old relationships while building bridges to new ones, all while holding onto your girls and dreams, Mylene represents understanding, and that “just because it has not been done before, does not mean it can’t be done by you”, attitude to a whole new level.
⅓ of Mylene and Regina, Yolanda is a supporting, and kind friend
to Mylene, often referring Mylene and Regina, as her sisters, since she’s the only girl in her family. The second oldest in the Kipling family, Yolanda brings the motherly nurturing aura to her friends but can also turn right around and become an uninhibited and unabashed teenager soul.
When Mylene is kicked out of her home, she stays in Yolanda’s room with the approval of Yolanda’s parents. During times of doubt and struggles, Yolanda is there, physically, mentally and emotionally for Mylene.
Regina is a firecracker that sparks Mylene, opposite of Yolanda. Regina constructively critiques and challenges Mylene, with love. In one scene, Regina is set to leave with Yolanda and Mylene, to check out the process of Mylene’s song that is being written by Jackie Moreno. Regina is stopped and harassed by her boyfriend, and Mylene interferes to put an end to the abusive relationship. Regina keeps Mylene on her toes, and balances out Mylene, in a way no other relationship or friendship Mylene has.
The oldest son of the Kipling family, Marcus ‘Dizzee’ Kipling, is a free soul who is a lover of books and thinks very deeply and different. Under the alias, Rumi 411, Dizzee is a street famous graffiti artist, known by his fans and infamous to the political leaders at city council. Dizzee has the ability to interact with someone’s soul and not just their exterior buildup. Dizzee expresses his fondness for people, looking past their gender, and because of that, viewers can think that Dizzee is pansexual, since he has expressed interest in ‘Thor’, another male graffiti artist, but there is no official confirmation. Dizzee is also good with rapping, and becomes part of ‘The Get Down Brothers’ with Zeke and Co.
The second oldest of the Kipling siblings, known as ‘RaRa’, is a fan of Star Wars, and deeply values friendship and brotherhood. Ra Ra is close friend to Ezekiel, out of all the brothers, and is the voice of reason in most cases. Ra Ra gives Ezekiel advice on friendship and love, and is always there for Ezekiel, even though Ezekiel does not always prioritize him. Ra Ra is also the most responsible and sensible of his brothers, and promotes honesty, even if it puts him in a tough situation.
The youngest of the Kipling clan is, Mile ‘Boo Boo’ Kipling, Just like any young sibling, Boo Boo is easy impressionable, naturally inquisitive, and a bundle of energy. Boo Boo always tags along with his older brothers on their adventures while never hesitating to break out in dance at the first beat of a song.
‘The Get Down’ has plot twists, artistic color schemes, and also unusual evil characters such as Cadillac, Fat Annie, and the two bickering politicians who could care less about inner city kids and their struggles. As a person, there is growth and understanding watching a show so profound in truth and expression. there is a sad realization that this show was a reality of children in the 1970’s. Is a reality Of children in 2016.
‘The get down’ has accurate story telling about minority groups wanting to better themselves against a corrupt system that only wants to hinder them. Writers of ‘the get down’ fearlessly and honestly, recant the truths of the cycle of drugs in poor black communities, stereotypes of marginalised groups of people and uncomfortably being the “token” black person, all while focusing on their.
One of the great aspects about the teenagers of ‘The Get Down’ was how they realized they are not defined by their environment. All the characters in the show can do something that the other cannot. Their talents do not compare to each other, neither does their upbringing nor their future. ‘The Get Down’ is important for young adults, especially, as it can impact the identity crisis most face. Celebration and recognition of oneself, and others is a recurring tone in the show.
Supporting shows that create safe representation and accurate television is a sign of progression and what we need. Let shows with people of color as the main character succeed so that there will be a new norm in our media. So that we don’t have to point it out when we do see it. Support ‘The Get Down’. Then voice your support for the ‘the get down’. Remember to get down with ‘the get down. As Dizzee said, “Viva la revolution”
This article was written by, Nasteha. Double majoring in English and Journalism, and her second year at community college, Nasteha plans to transfer to UCLA/NYU and is an aspiring entertainment journalist.
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Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.