It's Netflix's most expensive show — why aren't we more excited?

Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby. When director Baz Luhrmann makes something, he doesn’t go for understated.

His new Netflix series, The Get Down is of the same ilk. It’s a big show, with an even bigger budget. The biggest Netflix has had so far, in fact.

Listen: Laura Brodnik and Monique Bowley discuss The Get Down, on this week’s episode of The Binge:

The show

The Get Down tells the story of the birth of hip-hop in New York City’s South Bronx through the eyes of Ezekiel (Justice Smith). Ezekiel writes lyrics in the hope of winning the love of Mylene, a teen with dreams of being “the next Donna Summer”. The series also stars Jimmy Smits, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jaden Smith.

Ezekiel meets a rapper/graffiti artist named Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), who takes him and his friends to the Get Down, an underground hip-hop club run by Grandmaster Flash (Mamoudou Athie). Yes, real-life characters do cross paths with the fictional ones.

And when the trailer came out, promising a mix of pop hits, original songs from artists like Nas, huge dance numbers, and a classic coming-of-age story, people were excited.

The budget

The hype grew when news broke about the show’s budget issues. The Get Down is officially Netflix’s most expensive television series. According to Variety, the show cost $120 million to produce.

I’ll let that sink in.

That’s $10 million dollars an episode, the same cost as the final season of Friends(which was largely putting those funds into cast fees).

It’s $30 million more than the budget of the show Marco Polo, which previously held the Netflix record.

The Get Down‘s original budget was set at $98 million. In the two-and-a-half years after Netflix bought the series, the production went through several showrunners, multiple writers, a cross-country move, and production delays.

Eventually, Lurhmann, who’d only planned on producing, took over as day-to-day showrunner, which made the budget balloon even more.


The reviews

Now, it’s judgment day. After $120 million and a year-and-a-half of filming, the first six episodes of the highly anticipated series were released last Friday. Fans and critics are now able to make up their minds as to whether the huge price tag has been worth it.

And the answer is…maybe?

Slate’s critics all seem to agree the show is crazy, but that it has something. Jack Hamilton calls it “garish, cacophonous, tonally bonkers, frequently ridiculous, and occasionally thrilling. It is, in fewer words, a Baz Luhrmann production.” Willa Paskin describes it as a “chaotic mess spiked with rare flashes of fantastic”.

CNN calls The Get Down “A bit of a mess, although its infectious energy, young talent and period setting provide plenty of upside,” adding that the budget drama the show faced is “in some ways as interesting as The Get Down itself”.

The Vulture review seems to sum up everyone’s general vibe. “What a spectacular mixed bag The Get Down is.”

The verdict

The one thing all the reviews have in common is that the writer is interested enough to keep watching, and to say they’ll watch the rest of the series when it’s released next year.

Look, maybe it’s shit, but I’m intrigued. Definitely intrigued enough to check it out myself. Watch this space.

The first six episodes of The Get Down are available to stream on Netflix now.

This post originally appeared on Flo & Frank here.

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