Based on the 2005 memoir by Blair Tindall, a former New York City oboist, “Mozart in the Jungle” takes sex, drugs, and ambition and turns it into beautiful music. The Amazon show, now on its third season, has flown under the radar but has not been completely ignored. Winning Golden Globes for best television series and best actor, along with a prime-time Emmy award for outstanding sound mixing. It may be the most awarded, yet underrated, show yet.
These days we get our horror (“American Horror Story”), our politics (“VEEP”), and our dramatic plot twists (“How To Get Away With Murder”) fairly easily. With so many options and endless mediums to which we can access these shows, it’s shocking how little of it is actually something that makes us good. There is no loathsome villain, or even an ever more common, antihero. In “Mozart in the Jungle” you get fun, light humor. It’s realistic, yet outside of the realm to which most of us are exposed. The drama of professional orchestra musicians is not, on the surface, particularly exciting. But when you add a superb cast and a sweet thirty minute time frame, it’s just right.
Gael Garcia Bernal and Lola Kirke have a natural, yet mismatched, chemistry that is entirely realistic. The plot does not dwell on the usual tropes of sexual tension, rather it opts to focus on musical ambition. From millennials struggling with lofty goals, to the retirement aged audience who may be hanging up their hats on their careers, this show touches a very human nerve – the ego.
It’s very easy to identify with multiple characters on “Mozart in the Jungle,” or at the very least feel like you know someone just like them. The eccentric roommate, the territorial hard ass, the unabashedly nerdy music fan, or the retiree trying to find his place in the world – these people are people we know. The show brings together characters that are hard not to love, not in spite of their humanity but because of their humanity. It’s an absolute delight to watch this cast of players.
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Why You Should Be Watching “Mozart in the Jungle.” Photo Courtesy of Amazon Studios