Netflix just cranked it up to 88 miles an hour with “The Get Down,” but our excitement has nothing to do with what the series is actually about.
“The Get Down” is Netflix’s most expensive series yet, with production costs reportedly coming in at around $120 million. It has a solid cast, including Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Jaden Smith and Jimmy Smits, and it tells the story of the rise of hip-hop through the eyes of youth growing up in the poverty-stricken Bronx.
Unfortunately, the series is a little ... meh.
The indifference is pretty much summed up in the ending of Episode 6. At this point, you’ll have sat through hours of Ezekiel’s (Justice Smith) journey as he and his friends form a music group called The Get Down Brothers. He wins over Mylene, the girl of his dreams, and he even gets a high-profile internship. This guy has it all. As Ezekiel and Mylene stand on a roof looking at Manhattan in the final moments, he wonders if he can keep his new internship and still be in his hip-hop group with his friends.
Spoiler alert: Uh, yeah probably, dude. That doesn’t sound that difficult.
With thousands of other streaming options, “The Get Down” seems a little forgettable until you come to a realization:
Jaden Smith is playing a time-traveling Jaden Smith.
Buckle up! Where we’re going, we don’t need roads, thanks to Smith’s character, Marcus “Dizzee” Kipling.
From his first lines, it’s apparent there’s something different about Dizzee. In Episode 1, he gets philosophical about graffiti, saying, “When we see our names on these trains, if only for a fleeting moment, we can say, ‘I was here.’” Then, before he leaves his group of friends to go check out new graffiti by his favorite artist, he adds, “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.”
Yeah. OK, man.
(Remember that last line. We’ll get back to it.)
Dizzee continues to get more and more abstract as the show progresses, saying things such as, “This song is going to set so many people free. It speaks to planets and galaxies that already know what we’re learning down here.”
After a while of listening to this gobbledygook, you start to realize, “Hey, this seems a lot like Jaden Smith’s Twitter account.”
Jaden is known to post profound musings on Twitter, such as, “Maybe If I Was Harry Styles I Could Swim Across The Atlantic,” and, “I Don’t Know If Last Night Was A Dream Or Not.”
Basically every line Dizzee says could be something Jaden would say in real life, and we’re not the only ones who noticed:
The dialogue is just the beginning.
In the show, Jaden’s character is a graffiti artist who tags as Rumi. In real life, Rumi is the name of a Persian mystic, but in the show, Jaden says his Rumi tag is about an alien with a top hat who wants to go to the opera but never does.
Don’t try to make sense of it. You might hurt yourself. The important part is the word “alien.”
We know Jaden is interested in aliens, even asking President Obama about them at the White House, so Dizzee’s ... erm ... thought-provoking Rumi/alien story seems like it’s something straight from the real-life guy himself.
Also, the reason Rumi (again, the alien who wants to go to the opera) always misses the opera is because he’s afraid he’d terrify everyone there.
Jaden Smith recently admitted the reason he was quiet when he was younger is because he thought no one would understand him. It all sounds very similar.
Then, at one point in the series, Dizzee/Jaden kisses another man. This is supposed to be a shocking moment, perhaps even a twist, and it probably would be if it weren’t Jaden doing it.
Kissing another man isn’t off-brand at all for Jaden’s gender-fluid style. It’s not a big deal.
But if Jaden Smith is playing himself, then how could he do so in the 1970s?
Jaden Smith is definitely, probably time traveling.
Remember Jaden’s line, “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived”?
This is a quote found in “Strictly Ballroom,” a 1992 film by “The Get Down” creator Baz Luhrmann.
How could Smith reference a ‘90s movie if “The Get Down” takes place in the ‘70s? Sure, it could be because Luhrmann is helming the series, but c’mon. Live a little! The only real answer is time travel.
“How?” you may ask.
At one point in the show, Grandmaster Flash gives Smith’s group a purple crayon. The group is supposed to figure out the mystery of the purple crayon in order to learn the Grandmaster’s secret to playing sick beats. (Psst! The secret is just marking the record to know where to play it.)
Rather than do the logical thing and try to connect the crayon to the music, Jaden takes it and tries to draw a portal on the wall. Obviously.
That actually happens.
Jaden has clearly been drawing portals for his time travel. Unfortunately, the crayon breaks and the portal subsequently fails.
This last bit is The Father Of All Evidence.
In his defense of the crayon’s defamation, Dizzee/Jaden says he was trying to draw a portal like “Harold.”
Harold and the Purple Crayon is a children’s book first published in the ‘50s in which the protagonist, Harold, uses a crayon to bring his own world to life.
Since the book came out years before “The Get Down” takes place, someone from the ‘70s could conceivably make the connection. But Shameik Moore’s character, Shaolin Fantastic, doesn’t get the reference, so it’s not like this book has a lot of top-of-mind awareness or anything.
The fact that Jaden brings up Harold is pivotal.
In 2010, it was reported that Harold and the Purple Crayon was being adapted for the big screen. And one of the reported producers — I kid you not — was none other than Jaden Smith’s daddy, Will Smith.
There’s no doubt the younger Smith would know about this.
“Was Jaden Smith just given ‘The Get Down’ script and rewrote all the lines?” my colleague Todd Van Luling speculated.
Well, sure, that could be the reason ...
Todd, just get out of here!
JADEN SMITH IS PLAYING A TIME-TRAVELING JADEN SMITH!