Mozart in the Jungle Review

Mozart in the jungle review

Starring: Gael García Bernal, Bernadette Peters, Saffron Burrows, Malcolm McDowell, Lola Kirke, Hannah Dunne

Summary: What happens behind the curtains at the symphony can be just as captivating as what occurs on stage.

Genre(s): Comedy

If you’re on the lookout for an insightful show that will make you laugh and delight you with brilliant performances, we have the perfect pick. Mozart in the Jungle has a special way of pulling the viewers in and making them interested the lives of a bunch of classical musicians in Manhattan – let’s be honest, a crowd whose personal affairs we generally couldn’t care less about. Despite its unfortunate title, the show is sharp and funny; not to mention the fact that it looks (and sounds) great. Also, you don’t need to be a classical music fanatic to truly enjoy it. All you need are a few spare hours and an affinity for quirky dialogue.

You can watch the first season on Stan.

Show Summary

Mozart in the Jungle is about the fictional New York Philharmonic. Here is where Hailey, a young oboist, is looking for her shot at the big time. Meanwhile, an elderly conductor, Thomas, is stepping down to make way for a younger one, Rodrigo.  While Rodrigo is whacky and eccentric, Thomas plays the stronger, silent type. Their dynamic relies widely on the generational warfare that’s going on between the two. They both have huge egos; and when they interact, their competitive sides tend to make a special appearance. The show benefits from some solid comedic timing, and the only downfall is that the story takes time to build, which won’t play well with an impatient audience that doesn’t enjoy classical music.

The series was created by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Alex Timbers, and it’s adapted from Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, a confessional memoir written by oboist Blair Tindall’s. The show was produced by produced by Picrow for Amazon Studios and all ten episodes of the series were released in December 2014. Mozart in the Jungle was renewed for a second season in February 2015.


Season Recap

Thomas is a gifted man with a few career-related frustrations. The biggest one? He’s getting old, so he must find the next person who is worthy of stepping up to the throne he once occupied. The person who charms his way to that seat is Rodrigo – a genius, drug enthusiast, and prodigy. He’s been brought in to make classical music cool again, and hopefully earn the philharmonic more money.

Meanwhile, Hailey, a newcomer to New York, dreams of joining the philharmonic someday, as an oboist. Gloria, the president of the institution, has a few objections, but Rodrigo stands up for the young artist. The show follows Hailey on her journey through the wild world of classical musicians and showcases the various ways you can make a living through art.

Viewers get to see what happens behind the curtains and enter a world of emphatic fundraisers, whacky maestros, and entertaining rehearsals. The sexual tension between Hailey and Rodrigo is fun to watch, and the great casting and a high quality direction make every episode feel utterly refreshing. Secondary characters include Cynthia, a cellist; Lizzie, Hailey’s BFF and a party-girl at heart; Betty, an oboe player and the matriarch of the orchestra; Alex, a young dancer; and Ana Maria, a crazy musical genius Rodrigo was involved with.

By the end of season one, Rodrigo finds himself at a crossroads during his debut as conductor, Meanwhile, Hailey struggles to determine if she’s good enough to even keep trying to get somewhere with her music. The final episode leaves you feeling like there’s more greatness to come – and hopefully it will, as season 2 is set to premiere at the beginning of 2016.

Our Critic Review

The story (predictably) leads viewers into a world of drugs, sex, and classical music. Although these are all pillars the story builds on, they are not the only themes Mozart in the Jungle relies on. The show also takes some dramatic turns, especially when it comes to Rodrigo’s evolution throughout the series or Hailey’s attempts at romance. There’s never a dull moment with this show – when protagonists fade into the background, secondary characters steal the spotlight with charm and confidence, managing to bring a breath of freshness whenever the series seems to be at a stall.

During the years, we’ve seen McDowell play very authoritative characters who often appear unsympathetic. In Mozart in the Jungle, viewers get to explore a different side of him. The way he takes Hailey under his wing and shows her the ropes of the symphony world is extremely compelling, and both actors manage to deliver superb performances worthy of acclaim.

However, Bernal is the one who truly stands out from the crowd. His portrayal of Rodrigo is charming – he manages to bring a rock-n-roll vibe to classical music and isn’t afraid to dial up the wackiness whenever necessary. Rodrigo is a true force of nature, but he still cares a great deal about the orchestra and music in general. Finding a balance between these two sides can be challenging, and Bernal seems to effortlessly pull it off.

You won’t be overwhelmed by classical music; in fact, the musical performances are sparsely placed, which makes them that more powerful when showcased. Additionally, the series looks as good as it sounds. It uses New York City as a background and manages to somehow transfer the metropolis’ vibrant energy to the small screen, resulting in great visuals.

The bottom line? Mozart in the Jungle is a blast. It’s a fast-paced show that will delight viewers with its witty dialogue and fun storylines. Don’t expect a full-on comedy, but more of a light drama with a comedic touch, which manages to hit many of the right notes. It’s compelling, charming, and whimsical. All in all, the perfect choice for your next weekend binge-watch session.

VIDEO: Watch the trailer of Mozart in the Jungle season 1 !

Critic Reviews for Season 1

There’s a buoyancy to it that is absolutely as seductive as the music. Read Full Review

John Doyle, Globe and Mail

There’s a buoyancy to it that is absolutely as seductive as the music. Read Full Review

John Doyle, Globe and Mail

I would encourage you to keep watching “Mozart in the Jungle” … past its so-so, sometimes off-putting pilot. It gets good thereafter — very good. Read Full Review

Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times


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