Over the past few years, Netflix has expanded its original content. The industry-changing streaming service is one of the armatures on which the current golden age of television has been built. Hip-hop dramas are becoming the new trend on television. The two prominent cultural phenomena intersect in the new Netflix series The Get Down. Created by Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby), the series focuses on the lives of four Black teenagers during hip-hop’s early stages in the 1970s.
The lead characters are Boo-Boo (TJ Brown), a young man with an old soul; Ezekiel (Justice Smith), a smart and resourceful teen with big ambitions; Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), an eccentric and enigmatic child of the streets, and Ra-Ra (Skylan Brooks) a loyal and overprotective friend. To add authenticity to the series, legendary rapper Grandmaster Flash is not only being portrayed in the series by newcomer Mamoudou Athie, but he’s also joined the series as an associate producer and adviser.
The Get Down’s greatest asset is its young cast. Netflix provides a fantastic platform and international exposure for the four young black actors. While Brown and Smith are relative unknowns at this point, Moore and Brooks are hungry up-and-comers building career equity. Moore will become more familiar with audiences in the next few weeks thanks to his lead performance in the film Dope. Brooks made a splash a few years ago with his lead performance in The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete and being nominated for a Young Artist Award.
Netflix has cultivated a strong reputation for providing fresh original content, and The Get Down looks to continue that trend. As film studios continue to focus on big budget franchises, it’s becoming much harder for unique ideas to gain traction on the big screen. Streaming is television’s future, and hip-hop-based dramas are only going to grow more popular. As demand for these shows grows, young Black talent will be front and center. Television has shown a willingness to do new stories, and The Get Down’s series order provides great forward momentum. The Get Down is filming and will become available for viewing in 2016.