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Bronx 1977 is a depreciated environment. Yet despite burning buildings and empty lots, things still bloom in the cracks. Be it a wordsmith, a new type of music, or young love. But can they all survive when gun violence is everywhere and no hope or goal is guaranteed?
Homophobia (Use of Word Faggot) | Gun Violence (Use of Guns and Visual of them Killing People) | Drugs (Depiction) | Violence Against Women (Father Beating Daughter)
Ezeikiel ‘Zeke’ (Justice Smith) | Mylene (Herizen F. Guardiola) | Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore)
Main Plot (with Commentary)
Topic 1: Welcome To The BX Boro (Zeke & Mylene)
Summary: Bronx native Zeke knows how cruel the world can be. With both of his parents being shot, the only silver lining is Mylene. The daughter of a pastor and someone who wants to sing disco for a living, she sees Zeke simply as a friend, a great supporter, but nothing more. At least that is what her mouth says.
From Zeke’s first poem you know he loves this girl, even to the point of crying when she refuses him. Which is a welcome change from men cursing the girl out and cleansing by going from one body to the next. Much less, with Zeke being a sensitive person of color, trying to win over a girl with sweet nothings, how can you not love what feels like a rare depiction?
Not to downplay Mylene. Assumingly Guardiola is the one singing, and you can’t deny between her own natural talent and the direction of Baz Luhrmann, this doesn’t seem like her first big gig. Guardiola knows how to capture the idea of being someone’s first unrequited love, yet present the character as independent, a powerhouse performer, who be it singing or dancing, is well versed.
Topic 2: Les Inferno (Zeke, Mylene, and Shaolin Fantastic)
Summary: Les Inferno owned by Fat Annie (Lillias White), a boss on her way to being the next Nicky Barnes, this is the place Mylene plans to give her tape to DJ Malibu. Problem is, how are you going to get to the locally famous figure? Well, that’s where Cadillac (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Fat Annie’s son, comes in. Now, let it be known Mylene, between fearing her father and the lord, and not wanting to get down like that, may flirt but isn’t going to someone’s hotel room. What she wants is Cadillac’s connection to DJ Malibu and in order to get that, she needs to win a dance contest. Of which Cadillac always wins.
Enter Zeke. After Mylene’s first rejection, on the advice of best friend Ra-Ra (Skylan Brooks), he finds this record “Far, Far Away” that Mylene loves. However, the legendary Shaolin Fantastic snatches it from him and runs off as a local gang, the Savage Warlords chase him down. Luckily, as Shaolin is doing parkour, he drops the record and Zeke gets it, but Shaolin getting away doesn’t stop the Warlord’s pursuit. For when, that night, Zeke proves his wordsmith abilities to Shaolin, he lets Zeke try to win over Mylene in Les Inferno and the Warlords decide to follow. Focusing on Zeke and Mylene though, you’d think between their dance and even a kiss, he sealed the deal.
Alas, her despite what happened, her feelings about dating remain the same. Because, at the end of the day, Mylene needs a man by her side, not a boy. And while he did get her and her girls out of the shootout which happened, thanks to the Warlords, her word remains bond.
Setting aside the Mylene and Zeke romance, I honestly think the whole Fat Annie character was not only introduced well but the way White plays her makes you think she deserves her own show or movie.
Refocusing on Mylene and Zeke, bless the choreography and song choices of this show. I’m not too familiar with disco music, but I’ll be damn if I wasn’t Googling them once the episode was finished. On top of that, Mylene’s dance moves were swift and while she rejected Zeke, again, in those moments of them dancing, you can understand why she kissed him. When someone is holding you that close, when you are forced to trust them and be vulnerable with them, work with them and compromise based on your abilities, it is too romantic to not get caught up in the moment.
Topic 3: The Get Down (Shaolin Fantastic and Zeke)
Summary: Alongside being a protégé of Fat Annie, Shaolin is also the protégé of Grandmaster Flash (Mamoudou Athie). Hence why he needed that “Far, Far Away” record for at the Grandmaster’s Get Down it was something he wanted to play. So with Zeke’s dreams dashed, and Mylene refusing to take that record, he gives it away. But, with the Grandmaster noting in Shaolin’s journey to be a DJ he needs a wordsmith, Shaolin takes a chance on Zeke. Someone who fails at first to rock the mic, but when Shaolin steps up and B-Boys for respect, it gives Zeke the confidence needed to show up and show out. Leading to the beginning of their friendship.
I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of hip-hop, but you can’t just sit still when hearing the use turntables and hearing people freestyle. Add on you are seeing Zeke finally find something he can do with his life, it’s hard to not be proud of the kid.
- Seeing an emotionally vulnerable young man of color. The politics of the Bronx’s state, not mentioned in the review, and getting some type of vibe as to what life was like in 1977.
- The dancing and song choices.
- Not enough Fat Annie!