BBC News

Baz Luhrmann hip-hop drama The Get Down is a 'hot mess'

image copyrightNetflix
image captionThe series is reportedly the most expensive TV show ever made

The opening of Baz Luhrmann's Netflix TV musical drama The Get Down has generally disappointed critics, with one calling it "a gigantic hot mess".

The show, about the rise of hip-hop in 1970s New York, is said to be the most expensive ever made, reportedly costing $120m (£93m) for 12 episodes.

Reviewers criticised the pilot episode, directed by Luhrmann, as "indulgent".

However most agreed it showed promise in subsequent episodes, which were directed by other people.

The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman said the drama "gets off to a bad start, but improves as it goes along", while Variety's TV critic Sonia Saraiya described it as "both messy and wonderful".

But there was much praise for the show's unknown lead actors - Justice Smith, who plays teen street poet Ezekiel, and Herizen F Guardiola, who stars as aspiring disco singer Mylene.

The first six episodes of the series, which was also produced by hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash, are now available to watch on Netflix, with the second six expected to be released next year.

image copyrightNetflix
image captionCritics praised lead stars Justice Smith and Herizen F Guardiola

Entertainment Weekly - Jeff Jensen

Luhrmann's 90-minute pilot is Luhr­mann to the max: Exciting and messy, sublime and cornball. The camera is restless, the editing is frenetic, the music is electric, the emotions are huge.

In a year of indulgence, The Get Down ­ultimately suffers by not having enough of it. The show adopts a more conventional, sustainable style as other directors take the show beyond Luhrmann's spirited, gaudy launch.

Read the full review.

USA Today - Robert Bianco

This is myth in the making, laced with magic and martial arts and who knows what else. Some will grow bored with the style when the substance falters, but others are likely to be enchanted - particularly those who feel it's time hip-hop finally got its own cinematic celebration.

Time - Daniel D'Addario

The Get Down, like a verse crammed with three too many syllables, seems not to have been subjected to editing. It offers some of the more transcendent moments in recent TV memory, but to reach them viewers must slog through some of the dullest.

Subsequent episodes are tighter, but the 90-minute running time of the pilot, which indulges itself in meandering explorations of several blind alleys, should nonetheless be regarded as a harbinger.

image copyrightNetflix
image captionHip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash produced the series

Hollywood Reporter - Tim Goodman

The Get Down, chronicling the rise of hip-hop and the downfall of disco in a smouldering, chaotic New York, is a gigantic hot mess from Baz Luhrmann.

It suffers from a 90-minute pilot that will be divisive in its aesthetic choices - think West Side Story, not Spike Lee - but rises again in the next two episodes to give all the crazy a chance at becoming something really good.

The Daily Telegraph - Tim Martin

The Get Down is narratively messy, frequently caricatured and tonally all over the shop. It is also a work of Class A magic and wonder.

Luhrmann's characteristic blend of spectacular stage business with lovestruck dizziness and hunks of epic cheese has always worked best with young actors, and this entirely non-white line-up, from Smith and Guardiola to smaller parts for Skylan Brooks and Jayden Smith (son of Will), represents his greatest ensemble of actors since his 1997 triumph Romeo + Juliet.

Variety - Sonia Saraiya

The Get Down takes a few long and meandering hours to reach its own sweet spot. And the first episode, at a bloated 92 minutes, is a terrible introduction to the show.

The indulgently titled Where There Is Ruin, There Is Hope For A Treasure is too long, too confusing, and laboured, rather than dreamlike; it feels and is workshopped to death.

What saves the show - for those willing to invest in a three-to-four episode payoff - is Justice Smith's preternaturally brilliant performance as Zeke.

Deadline - Dominic Patten

The Get Down is not just the sum of its much-sampled parts but all about the groove - even if it takes a bit to find it.

Once it gets going, Luhrmann's streaming-service debut has a lot more hits than misses as this version of the Bronx 1977 creatively burns brightly.

Follow us on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, on Instagram at bbcnewsents, or email

Related Topics

  • Netflix
  • Television
  • Hip-hop

More on this story

  • Baz Luhrmann to make Netflix musical