A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mozart in the Jungle explores a little-seen side of classical music that features strong, unbleeped language (including "f--k," "s--t," and "pr--k"), drinking and drug use (mostly pot), and simulated sex that stops just short of showing any nudity. The show is based on a controversial memoir of the same name chronicling the seedier side of a young oboist's classical music career.
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What's the story?
Based on the titillating memoir of the same name by Blair Tindall, MOZART IN THE JUNGLE follows an assortment of classical music artists working in New York City, centering on talented young oboist Hailey (Lola Kirke) and her interactions with a variety of big-name players. While Hailey navigates the ins and outs of getting hired, the city's storied symphony is undergoing changes of its own with the retirement of the seasoned maestro (Malcolm McDowell) and the arrival of his replacement, a hot young conductor (Gael Garcia Bernal).
Is it any good?
Mozart in the Jungle isn't the only original series from Amazon Studios to harness the power of established stars (see also: Transparent), but its credentialed cast is certainly impressive and exciting, from McDowell and Bernal, who play the dueling maestros in a battle of then vs. now, to Tony winner Bernadette Peters, who plays the chair of the symphony board -- not to mention Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Alex Timbers, who penned the script. Several well-known classical musicians make cameos, too, making Mozart feel a little like Smash with a highbrow twist.
But, much like Smash, which drew a small but loyal audience of Broadway fans before it was ultimately canceled, Mozart might suffer from limited appeal, even in spite of its attempts to spice up classical music's stuffy image with sex and drugs aplenty. For consenting adults, there's enough here to like, but, for impressionable teens -- particularly those with aspirations to play music professionally -- Mozart roundly sets the wrong tone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about classical music stereotypes and how Mozart in the Jungle often shatters them. How much of what you're seeing is based on fact, and how much has been sensationalized for TV? Does the show help or hurt classical music's image?
How does the televised version of Mozart in the Jungle compare to the memoir that inspired it? What changes were made, and do you think they were necessary?
Does the fact that Mozart in the Jungle airs on Amazon allow it to take more liberties in terms of content than traditional television shows? How has the advent of on-demand, original content changed the television landscape?
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