Originally based on the book Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music by Blair Tindall, the Amazon Prime Original series, now in its fourth season, explores the personal and professional lives of members of the New York Symphony.
Our story begins with young, passionate, acclaimed conductor Rodrigo De Souza (Gael Garcia Bernal) replacing seasoned veteran Thomas Pembridge (Malcolm McDowell) as conductor and musical director of the orchestra, a move that is not amiably received by Mr. Pembridge, despite outward appearances. At the same time, young oboist Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke) is navigating her way through the New York musical maze. The two worlds collide when Rodrigo hosts an open audition for a new oboist, and Hailey takes her shot.
If you think that a show about classical musicians sounds dull, well that’s exactly what the show’s creators want you to think going in. Season One is pretty much dedicated to dispelling the myth that, just because people can create sophisticated, exquisitely refined music, doesn’t mean they possess those qualities as human beings. As the book title promises, there’s plenty of sex, drugs, and classical music to go around. You don’t have to love classical music to enjoy the show, but fans will surely enjoy listening to this show as much as watching it—especially through a higher-quality sound system.
As entertaining as the first season is, the show really finds its voice and its heart in Season Two—in part because it takes a slightly softer tone and starts to embrace its “weird.” Let’s face it, creative people are kind of weird. That weirdness drives their passion but also makes personal relationships a challenge.
Rodrigo is the poster child of weird, and Gael Garcia Bernal plays him with such sweetness and vulnerability that you can’t help but fall in love with him. (Both the show and Bernal earned Golden Globes for Season Two.) Each season brings its own challenges and adventures, but the show never loses sight of its primary conflict: Being true to yourself versus being what others need or want you to be.
Above all, Mozart in the Jungle is a love letter to the creative process—be it music, art, dance, etc. It’s about chasing dreams, finding your muse, and how to keep the passion alive above the politics. Yet, despite these weighty themes, the show never takes itself too seriously. It’s fun, whimsical, and sometimes downright silly. This weirdo absolutely loves it.
Adrienne Maxwell has been writing about the home theater industry for longer
than she’s willing to admit. She is currently the managing editor and video specialist
at HomeTheaterReview.com. Adrienne lives in Colorado, where she spends far too
much time looking at the Rockies and not nearly enough time being in them.