I saw a preview for this Amazon Prime series, the first such endeavor for this company, when I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the movie theater. I was immediately intrigued. I enjoy movies and tv shows about music and this series, titled Mozart in the Jungle, looked interesting. Tonight presented the perfect opportunity to catch the first episode.
Mozart in the Jungle stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Lola Kirke, Saffron Burrows, Bernadette Peters, Malcolm McDowell and Peter Vack. The series has two seasons available for viewing if you are an Amazon Prime member. The rating is R, in my opinion, for adult themes, language and sexual situations.
Episode 1, called simply, Pilot, intoduces the story line for the series. Amazon wrote, “Love, money, ambition and music intertwine in Mozart in the Jungle, a half hour comedic drama that looks at finding yourself and finding love in New York City. A brash new maestro Rodrigo (Bernal) stirs up the New York Symphony as young oboist Hailey (Kirke) hopes for her big chance.”
Retiring conductor Thomas (McDowell) reluctantly steps down from 20 years of conducting one of the nation’s finest symphonic orchestras. Gloria (Peters), the president of the orchestra, seeks to bring fresh life to the group by introducing passion, via new maestro Rodrigo.
The man, young and unconventional, is a musical genius. Thomas, who assumes a new role with the orchestra, immediately dislikes the brilliant conductor.
Hailey has been tutoring in NYC and gets an unexpected chance to audition for a chair in the orchestra when her mentor, Cynthia (Burrows), informs her of unannounced try outs. Hailey arrives late, but when Rodrigo hears her playing the oboe, he is captivated. She may lack experience, but he says she has blood.
Rounding out the cast of main characters is Alex (Vack), a dancer studying at Julliard. He and Hailey have a growing affection for each other that is still in the awkward stage, romantically. I suspect they will remain friends, and nothing more.
I have to admit that in the first few minutes of episode one, I almost bailed. I wanted to give the story a chance to develop. Yet I was put off by one aspect of the “adult” nature of the series…the depiction of minor drug use by several characters. The majority of the characters did not partake, because they valued their art above all else. That was crucial for me.
I decided to keep going. I absolutely do not endorse drug use, while I do understand that it’s a very common practice. The series portrays what goes on backstage as musicians, some with big egos, some with addictions, attempt to live a life that combines art with survival.
Hailey says to Alex, “It’s like figuring out how to make money and how to be a good roommate and a good daughter, and none of it is about the art. So when I’m successful…it better be easier.” That sums up Mozart in the Jungle perfectly. It is a show about living creatively without letting the challenges of life snuff out that passion.
By the end of the first episode, I was convinced to continue. I hit next, and watched the second episode as well, titled Fifth Chair. I surrendered to the larger story going on, without getting hung up in less savory, but altogether too realistic, subplots.
I’m glad I did. The acting is well done. And the music is enchanting, uplifting, heart stirring. I’m looking forward to seeing Rodrigo inspire his orchestra, with his unconventional ways. And the further development of the rest of the characters.
Tomorrow, which happens to be my birthday, brings a yearly event that I treasure. Dayan is participating once again in the region’s honor band performance. That concert never fails to bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. I’ll be sharing more about that in Saturday’s post. Tonight, watching two episodes of Mozart in the Jungle, tuned my heart for tomorrow’s magnificent performance. I’m ready!