The Get Down
By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Relatable characters in edgy but powerful hip-hop history.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Though the characters are poor and disadvantaged, they cling to their principles: A preacher only allows church music to be sung in his tabernacle, the owner of a salon carefully tends the sidewalk in front of his business because it's "prairie."
Positive Role Models
Young men posture in a macho way but write tender poetry and love notes to girls they like; a political leader is viewed as corrupt but cares deeply about his constituents. Parents are present and imperfect but try to raise their kids to be good people. Cast boasts extensive racial and ethnic diversity.
Violence & Scariness
News footage shows rioting young men armed with knives; a street gang threatens a group of high school boys with canes and by firing gunshots wildly in the air; buildings in a poor neighborhood burn in the background of many shots.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens date and kiss; a high school girl sings an obscene ditty about her body parts hoping for sex tonight; prostitutes appear on-screen along with their pimps while a boy worries the girl he likes will get "turned out." Two girls advise a female friend to flirt with a famous man while scantily clad as a means to getting a record deal (she decides to try to get ahead via her talent alone).
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Frequent unbleeped cursing: "s--t," "damn," "goddamn," "motherf---er," "ass." Insulting language: "sucker" and "loser." A high schooler insults an adult by showing his middle finger. Racial language: the "N" word.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke cigarettes; multiple characters (including high schoolers) smoke joints and carry around whiskey and beer to drink. Underage characters sneak into a disco.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Get Down is a series about the beginnings of hip-hop in the South Bronx in the 1970s. High school-aged characters drink, smoke marijuana, brandish and sometimes shoot guns, and sneak out of their houses and into discos but are inspired by music. Characters smoke cigarettes, refer to prostitution, steal, idolize criminals and thugs, and view graffiti tags as a means of self-expression. Cursing includes "ass," "hell," "damn," "s--t," "f--k," "motherf---er," and "p---y." Racial and hate language includes the "N" word nd "f--got." Parents are generally present and responsible, and characters are realistic and often tender toward each other.
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The Get Down
Based on 6 parent reviews
Very sad ending, a lot of swearing and a lot of drug usage and dealing.
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Great show; strong content
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What's the Story?
Among the crime, drugs, poverty, and burning buildings of the simmering South Bronx of the 1970s, legends, art, and even love flourish in THE GET DOWN. Conflicted Ezekiel (Justice Smith) writes tender poetry to Mylene (Herizen F. Guardiola), who views him as a friend only. Nothing can get in the way of her attempts to launch her music career. That's right -- the minister's daughter wants to become a disco star. Ezekiel's sights are set slightly lower; he'll settle for a little romance from Mylene or maybe getting a look at legendary local graffiti and kung fu master Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore). Meanwhile, in the corridors of city power, corrupt politician Francisco "Papa Fuerte" Cruz (Jimmy Smits) and Holy Roller preacher Pastor Ramon Cruz (Giancarlo Esposito) scheme to keep the keys to their borough while keeping an eye on drug boss Fat Annie (Lillias White).
Is It Any Good?
Series creator Baz Luhrmann isn't exactly known for restraint, so the fact that this series is a surreal whirl of music and romance isn't a surprise -- but its sweetness and humor might be. It's awash in clichés -- Mylene and Ezekial are nothing more or less than a pair of star-crossed lovers straight out of West Side Story, Fat Annie would fit comfortably in with the dancing flappers of Chicago, and Smits rumbles and schemes like so many other corrupt politicos have in so many movies. Yet there's real magic in the way Ezekiel's liquid eyes watch Mylene every time she's on-screen or in the way Zeke and his friends describe how they'll know ghetto kung fu master and legendary criminal Shaolin Fantastic when they see him: "His pumas are always pristine -- his hands are samurai swords!" Like poetry, this is a story told in impressions and emotion, and it's messy and nonlinear. For example, an adult Ezekiel appears at the very beginning of the series to frame the plot that then unfolds, as if to point this out.
But it's mesmerizing and beautiful, too, and hard to stop watching. It may be a bit rough for hip-hop-crazed teens -- parents may want to watch first to check it out -- but it's a powerfully told story, with characters that make you want to keep watching.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about The Get Down's violence. Does it seem believable? Scary? Do different types of movie violence have different effects on kids?
Why do you think drinking, smoking, and drugs are so prevalent in this series? Are they glamorized? How much of a role do substances play in the music industry?
Are audiences meant to like and relate to main characters Ezekiel and Mylene? How can you tell? What's the difference between a protagonist and a hero? Which words better describe these two characters?
- Premiere date: August 12, 2016
- Cast: Shameik Moore, Justice Smith, Herizen Guardiola, Giancarlo Esposito, Jimmy Smits
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: February 26, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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