This summer I have been streaming up a storm. I've already watched Bloodline (Season 2), Orange is the New Black (Season 4) and Catastrophe (Seasons 1 & 2). When I finished Catastrophe I was itching for another show to start right away. A few people had recommended Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle and I had remembered the show winning two Golden Globe awards back in January. They beat out fan favorites Orange is the New Black, Silicon Valley and Veep to win Best Comedy Series and lead actor Gael Garcia Bernal defeated Jeffrey Tambor of Transparent, winning Best Actor in a TV Comedy. Fun fact - I met Gael Garcia Bernal at the New Yorker Festival. He is quite short, but that doesn't stop him from trying to woo every single lady in sight.
As I mentioned, Mozart in the Jungle is available through Amazon Video. You can watch for free if you have Amazon Prime. Each season has 10 episodes and the episodes are 30 minutes long. The show is based on oboist Blair Tindall's 2005 memoir Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music.
Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Rodrigo De Souza, the newly installed conductor for the New York Symphony. He has been brought on by the symphony's manager, Gloria Windsor (played by Broadway star Bernadette Peters), to revive their reputation and attract more young people. Rodrigo is a free spirit. His wild and outside-the-box approaches are often scoffed at by the musicians and the symphony's board.
There is extreme tension because many musicians and board members wish for the previous conductor, Thomas Pembridge, to be reinstated. Pembridge is played by Malcolm McDowell, who has been in every TV show known to man. Thomas represents the old guard, Rodrigo represents the future and Gloria is stuck in the middle.
Lola Kirke (sister of Jemima Kirke, star of HBO's Girls) plays the female lead, oboist Hailey Rutledge. Hailey gets the opportunity to audition for the symphony and really impresses Rodrigo. Sadly, she blows her first rehearsal and quickly loses her spot. Despite her epic fail (let's just say she uses the F word in the first five minutes), Rodrigo sees something in her and asks her to stay with the symphony as his assistant.
In his thick Spanish accent the way Rodrigo says Hailey sounds like "jai alai." For those who took Spanish in middle school or high school, you may remember that jai alai is a sport like racquetball.
Hailey is a nurturing, maternal presence in Rodrigo's life as he adjusts to New York City and to this new group of musicians. Despite her mother-like role in his life, there is also some serious sexual tension between the two of them.
The cast also includes Saffron Burrows, who plays cellist Cynthia Taylor. Cynthia takes Hailey under her wing right away and tries to coach her into winning back her spot. She also happens to have had a long affair with the previous conductor, Thomas.
Over the course of the first two seasons the show has many guest stars. My favorite is a recurring role for Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend's Wedding) who plays an unbelievably sexy cellist, Andrew Walsh. There is a hilarious episode in the second season where Andrew is filming footage for a video game along with Rodrigo and Thomas (yes, a symphony video game). They are dressed in all black in front of a green screen. They begin arguing and all of a sudden three of the most respected men in classical music and throwing punches while dressed in black spandex.
At the end of the second season, Rodrigo travels home to his native Mexico City. His mentor reveals to him that he is quite sick and would like Rodrigo to return to Mexico and take over his post. The drama that follows takes the show in a new direction and one that I think will make a phenomenal set up for season three.
I don't consider myself a big music person (unless singing along to hip hop throwbacks on Hot 96.9 counts) so I wasn't sure if Mozart in the Jungle would hold my attention, but it totally did. Who knew there could be so much drama, in fighting and betrayal in the orchestra?
Mozart in the Jungle has a supremely talented cast, witty writing and tons of unexpected plot twists. Before all of our regular season shows return in September, definitely add this to your watch list.