These days, it seems like everyone – even Chipotle – is getting into the original web series game. And why wouldn’t they? Ever since Netflix blew everyone’s minds with original series House of Cards, competitors have been rushing to get a piece of the digital pie. Of these, commerce giant Amazon has taken one of the more interesting approaches to developing programming. Whereas Netflix has used data about the viewing habits of its 33 million users to decide on their own what might be a hit, Amazon is letting its consumers weigh in on pilots before series are even made. Last year, the company produced a collection of pilots and invited viewers to watch, leave feedback and make comments (much like their product rating and reviews system) – thereby letting consumers directly influence which pilots became full series. The voting process could be an exciting boon for digital content that speaks to Latinos; after all, young Latinos are adopting new technology like digital streaming services more quickly than any other demographic group in the United States, according to a report from Nielsen, AND they watch more hours of videos online and on their mobile phones than the average American.
Which brings us to Amazon’s latest pilot season, now in full swing. One of the pilots, Mozart in the Jungle features a very enticing Gael García Bernal, in what could become his first U.S. series. The show is the newest addition to the long list of shows that aim to provide a “behind the scenes” look at the saga of being a modern professional: doctors, lawyers, politicians, you name it. Mozart in the Jungle’s twist lies in its choice to dissect the ins-and-outs of the institution of classical music. Rodrigo de Souza (Gael García Bernal) is introduced as the new conductor of the (fictional) New York Symphony Orchestra. Forced to pass the baton, Maestro Thomas (Malcolm McDowell) bitterly and arrogantly welcomes Rodrigo.
Sporting a long curly ponytail and wearing—as Thomas puts it—a “Sgt. Pepper Jacket”, Rodrigo irrupts as a promising, innovative, and irreverent-yet-sharp conductor. A euphoric audience greets him with a passionate chorus of “Rodrigo, Rodrigo”. Most of the episode focuses on Hailey (Lola Kirke), a young oboist from North Carolina who is struggling to make ends meet in New York, the city where everyone wants to succeed as an artist. She is instructed in the sexual goings-on of musicians and how their choice of musical instrument relates to their lovemaking style by Cynthia (Saffron Burrows), a slightly older cellist who has had her dose of adventures and happens to be involved with the retiring Maestro.
The pilot takes care to give us just enough hints of what may happen once Hailey meets the eccentric and hard to please Rodrigo. An affectionate romp with his first conquest (his assistant) is interrupted by Hailey’s alluring obo solo, suggesting that much more is to be discovered in this adaptation of Blair Tindall’s book “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music.” Directed by Paul Weitz and written by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers, the debut episode is available for free here.
Now is your chance to decide whether Mozart in the Jungle will become Gael’s first American series. Your input can also shape the premise of the story, the casting, the music, and other aspects of the show, literally letting you decide what kind of original series you want to watch!