Welcome to the Jungle, We’ve Got Sex and Oboes

Amazon comes up all fun and games with its latest original series, Mozart in the Jungle.

Show

Mozart in the Jungle, available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video (or for free with your Amazon Prime membership).

Premise

Hailey, a young oboist from North Carolina, looks to break into the New York Symphony Orchestra just as a new conductor brings a fresh perspective to the ensemble.

Lineage

Created by Paul Weitz (About a Boy), Roman Coppola (of the Coppola-Schwartzman-Cage clan), and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore).

Who is Mozart in the Jungle For?

If you like shows that are heavy, dark, and wrap feints within feints within feints, you might want to move along. This is a light comedy that flirts with raunchiness but ultimately ends up on the sofa in pajamas with its roommates for popcorn, wine, and Jimmy Kimmel.1 For example: the pilot opens with a lowbrow oboe-as-phallus comparison, but within 90 seconds is joking about how annoying it is when old people loudly unwrap candies next to you during a concert.

What Works

I am not interested in convincing you that this show is groundbreaking, intriguing, or will change your life. It isn’t, and it won’t.2 What it will do is keep you thoroughly entertained for half an hour. The main actors, three women you’ve probably never heard of before, work with the meat of the plot while the bigger name actors3 drop in occasionally to spice things up.

What Doesn’t Work

There are moments when the show threatens to dip a bit too far into cliché. The (youngish, female) second cellist is sleeping with the (old, male, retiring) conductor. During her party, Hailey’s roommate Lizzie scratches a Carmen record on a turntable then yells “Let’s get Bizet!” Hailey is challenged to a game that combines “spin the bottle” with the wind instrument version of a drumline battle. Despite introducing several female characters (Hailey the oboist, Lizzie the roommate, Cynthia the second cellist, Gloria the Board president, Sharon the conductor’s assistant) I’m pretty sure the pilot does not pass the Bechdel test.

Verdict

Watch this show! Do it Right Now, multiple times, before you cancel your Amazon Prime account in order to avoid giving a dime to Woody Allen.4

  1. Or whomever the kids are watching these days.  
  2. It does create and execute an entire song from a fake musical (“Styx: Oedipus Rocks”) as an extended throwaway joke. That takes commitment.  
  3. Gael García Bernal, Malcolm McDowell, Gael García Bernal, Bernadette Peters, and Gael García Bernal  
  4. Or is that just me?  

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About Ryan Brazell 135 Articles

E-mail: ryan@whatelseison.tv