SHARE

There was a moment when Mozart in the Jungle—Amazon’s dreamy little series about the busy, sometimes bitchy inner world of the New York classical music scene—almost snapped into the zeitgeist. It was the 2016 Golden Globes, and the series, which had just launched its second season, picked up two statuettes for best comedy and best actor in a comedy (for star Gael Garcia Bernal). The twin wins inspired a rash of frantic tweets and Google searches, with startled TV viewers wondering how this show (the “her?” of that year’s Globes) could have beaten out critical favorites like Master of None and Transparent.

The general consensus? This was yet another case of the Globes being the Globes, anointing an unpredictable choice for the hell of it. Instead of those wins proving that Mozart was a series worth watching, the series never really found a way to tap into the collective consciousness of mainstream viewers—even after the Globes. But here’s the thing about Mozart in the Jungle: its first season was lovely. Its second and third seasons were lovely. And its fourth season, which debuted Friday on Amazon, is lovelier and looser still, proving exactly why more people should have been paying attention to this delightful show all along.

This year, the conceit is the same as it’s ever been, more or less. The series—co-created by Roman Coppola,Alex Timbers, and Jason Schwartzman, who occasionally drops by for cameos—follows a whimsical composer named Rodrigo (Bernal), a rock star in the world of classical music who is swept in to revamp the New York Symphony. Once there, he meets Hailey Rutledge (played by Lola Kirke)—whose first name he charmingly pronounces like “jai alai”—a sweet, fledgling oboist trying to work her way into the upper echelon of the classical scene. She settles for being Rodrigo’s assistant, at first, sparking a bond that has blossomed and transformed over the course of the last few seasons. The rest of the cast is equally lovable. Broadway legend Bernadette Peters plays the no-nonsense president of the symphony, who favors a Betty Boop–esque wardrobe. Malcolm McDowell plays the cantankerous conductor emeritus. Saffron Burrows plays the symphony’s sultry cellist, and Hannah Dunne plays Hailey’s floaty, hipster best friend.

If there is a real raison d’être for newcomers to tune in, it’s to watch Bernal give one of the silliest and most magnetic performances of his career. Rodrigo, at first, seems like a caricature of an artist: he’s eccentric and unpredictable, personality traits externally characterized by a very goofy, curly wig that Bernal has to wear for several episodes. But Bernal’s performance ultimately softens the eye-rolling that Rodrigo’s character could have inspired, were he played by a less deft actor. Instead, Bernal’s Rodrigo is a romantic visionary with a heartfelt ambitious streak, caught between selfishly chasing inspiration and reaching out to inspire others around him. Why resist his charms?

Mozart in the Jungle often errs on the comedic side of dramedy, striking a pleasant tone. The mood is warm and the stakes are manageable, making it the TV equivalent of a sparkling cocktail. It’s mostly shot in a Manhattan that seems to be caught in an eternal summer, the season when the city is at its dreamiest. Mozart occasionally leans into that dreamy facade, dropping twinges of surreality; Bernal sometimes has hallucinatory conversations with famous dead composers, including, of course, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In Season 3, the show aired its boldest episode ever, staging a live concert at Rikers Island. The episode, filmed in a brooding vérité style, features the orchestra performing Olivier Messiaen’s heady “Quartet for the End of Time,” and ends with interviews with various actual inmates giving their sincere opinions about the music. It plays perfectly into the show’s strengths, while also introducing viewers to a brilliant piece of classical music.

When the show gets bored with New York, it jaunts to locales like Venice, Havana, and Mexico City. Several episodes in Season 4 take place in Tokyo, focusing less on the city’s bustling streets and more on the quietude of its musical and cultural traditions; one episode features a gorgeously detailed enactment of a traditional tea ceremony in all its ancient and A.S.M.R.-friendly splendor. The scene is confident in its stillness, a lovely piece of calm in a pile of TV shows obsessed with shocking their viewers from one moment to the next. There’s a harmony to it all: Bernal’s performance, main director Paul Weitz’s thoughtful eye, the woven-in surreality, the welcome introduction to forgotten classical gems. Like any good orchestra, Mozart is bubbling with smart players who swell into a symphony of something greater. Go ahead and give it a listen.

Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:22 Movies and TV Shows That Will Save Us in 2018

Westworld (Season 2)

HBO is once again hoping you’ll ignore the big Game of Thrones-shaped hole in its schedule and turn your attention back to the sci-fi mind game that is Westworld. The Emmy-nominated series, starring Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton, is ready to confound you once again in its second season. Until its spring 2018 premiere, take a trip back in time and revisit nine burning questions we still have about the finale.Photo: By John P. Johnson/HBO.*Grown-ish*

Grown-ish

Yara Shahidi takes the lead in this youthful Black-ish spin-off set to air on Freeform starting Jan. 3, 2018. In this series, Zoey is finally off to college, stumbling through cringeworthy rites of passage like embarrassing herself at a frat party and hiding secrets from her parents.Photo: By Eric Liebowitz/Freeform.Superhero Smorgasbord

Superhero Smorgasbord

Every superhero you love is coming out with a new movie in 2018. In no particular order, get ready for a bounty that includes: Black Panther,Avengers: Infinity War,Deadpool 2,The New Mutants,X-Men: Dark Phoenix,Ant-Man and the Wasp,Venom, and Aquaman.Photo: By Zade Rosenthal/©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett Collection.The Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics

’Tis the season to watch a bunch of perfect human specimens fight for tiny gold medallions. This year’s Winter Olympics will kick off on Feb. 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.Photo: By Julian Finney/Getty Images.*The Chi*

The Chi

After breaking out on Master of None and winning a historic Emmy for one of this year’s best TV episodes, Lena Waithe is ready to claim her spot in the prestige-TV realm. Enter The Chi, her Showtime series about young people coming of age in Chicago, set to premiere on Jan. 7.Photo: By Matt Dinerstein/SHOWTIME.*A Wrinkle in Time*

A Wrinkle in Time

The classic Madeleine L’Engle tale is finally coming to the big screen on March 9, 2018, thanks to Disney and director Ava DuVernay. The sci-fi story about a girl tesseracting her way through time to find her missing father will star newcomer Storm Reid alongside stars like Oprah Winfrey,Mindy Kaling,Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Pine.Photo: By Atsushi Nishijima/Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.hans olo

Solo: A Star Wars Story

After some catastrophic ups and downs, Han Solo’s origin story will finally be revealed to us on May 25, 2018. The Star Wars spin-off stars Alden Ehrenreich as the galactic smuggler and also features Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Emilia Clarke playing a mysterious character named Kira.Photo: From Lucasfilm Ltd./Everett Collection.PreviousNext

<em>Westworld</em> (Season 2)

Westworld (Season 2)

HBO is once again hoping you’ll ignore the big Game of Thrones-shaped hole in its schedule and turn your attention back to the sci-fi mind game that is Westworld. The Emmy-nominated series, starring Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton, is ready to confound you once again in its second season. Until its spring 2018 premiere, take a trip back in time and revisit nine burning questions we still have about the finale.By John P. Johnson/HBO.

<em>Grown-ish</em>

Grown-ish

Yara Shahidi takes the lead in this youthful Black-ish spin-off set to air on Freeform starting Jan. 3, 2018. In this series, Zoey is finally off to college, stumbling through cringeworthy rites of passage like embarrassing herself at a frat party and hiding secrets from her parents.By Eric Liebowitz/Freeform.

Superhero Smorgasbord

Superhero Smorgasbord

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Plugin for AdSense.

Please go to the plugin admin page to
Paste your ad code OR
Suppress this ad slot.

Every superhero you love is coming out with a new movie in 2018. In no particular order, get ready for a bounty that includes: Black Panther,Avengers: Infinity War,Deadpool 2,The New Mutants,X-Men: Dark Phoenix,Ant-Man and the Wasp,Venom, and Aquaman.By Zade Rosenthal/©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett Collection.

The Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics

’Tis the season to watch a bunch of perfect human specimens fight for tiny gold medallions. This year’s Winter Olympics will kick off on Feb. 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.By Julian Finney/Getty Images.

<em>Black Klansman</em>

Black Klansman

If the title alone doesn’t catch your eye, the artists behind it surely will. Spike Lee is directing this thriller, produced by nascent horror maestro Jordan Peele, about a black detective who infiltrates the KKK in the 1970s. John David Washington (son of Denzel) plays the lead, while the rest of the cast includes Adam Driver and rising star Laura Harrier.Black Klansman does not yet have a release date.Left, by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Right, by Kevin Mazur/WireImage.

<em>The Incredibles 2</em>

The Incredibles 2

This superhero movie, which hits theaters on June 15, 2018, gets its own slide—because fans have been waiting for this sequel for 13 years. At long last, the Parr family is back fighting crime, with a little help from close friend Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). It’s time to find your supersuit—and remember, no capes!Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.

<em>The Happytime Murders</em>

The Happytime Murders

Brian Henson’s (son of Jim) dark detective twist on the pleasant world of puppetry promises to be a baffling pop-cultural delight in the vein of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Humans and puppets coexist in this dark tale about a serial killer who’s out to murder the stars of hit 80s series The Happytime Gang. The cast is stacked with comedy stars, led by Melissa McCarthy,Maya Rudolph, and Elizabeth Banks. The film will hit theaters on Aug. 17, 2018.Left, by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images; Right, by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images.

<em>Jessica Jones</em> (Season 2)

Jessica Jones (Season 2)

Everyone’s favorite grouchy, hard-drinking superhero is finally back for a second season on March 8, with Krysten Ritter slipping on the familiar leather jacket for Jones’s latest adventures. Though the plot is still fairly under wraps, a teaser trailer promises that she’s still a sardonic and deliciously violent destroyer of men.By Myles Aronowitz/Netflix.

<em>Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again</em>

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

My, my, how can you resist this? The sequel to the 2008 blockbuster musical is finally on its way, and it’s already guaranteed to be your favorite guilty pleasure of 2018. The story is a prequel to the original, revolving around Meryl Streep’s character when she was a young woman (perhaps even . . . a young dancing queen). Not only is its core cast back in action, but the truly iconic Cher has decided to bless the sequel with her presence. Catch it in theaters on July 20, 2018.From ©Universal/Everett Collection.

<em>Roseanne</em>

Roseanne

Break out your flannel and sarcasm, because Roseanne is back. The classic 90s sitcom is getting the nostalgia reboot treatment on March 27, more than 20 years after it first ended.

<em>Ocean’s 8</em>

Ocean’s 8

The all-female Ocean’s 11 reboot is easily one of the most anticipated films of the year, not least because of its excellent cast (Rihanna!Sandra Bullock!Cate Blanchett!). The glitzy heist movie revolves around the Met Gala, promising a coterie of celeb cameos, and is slated to hit theaters on June 8, 2018. Satiate yourself until then by re-watching the perfect trailer.By Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros.

<em>The Assassination of Gianni Versace</em>

The Assassination of Gianni Versace

We may be in the midst of a true-crime revival, but few productions promise to be as opulent as this Ryan Murphy mini-series. The horrifying true story about the murder of fashion icon Gianni Versace will be retold with a stellar cast that includes Édgar Ramírez as Versace himself, Penélope Cruz as his sister Donatella, and Ricky Martin as Versace’s partner, Antonio D’Amico.By Jeff Daly/FX.

<em>The Chi</em>

The Chi

After breaking out on Master of None and winning a historic Emmy for one of this year’s best TV episodes, Lena Waithe is ready to claim her spot in the prestige-TV realm. Enter The Chi, her Showtime series about young people coming of age in Chicago, set to premiere on Jan. 7.By Matt Dinerstein/SHOWTIME.

<em>A Wrinkle in Time</em>

A Wrinkle in Time

The classic Madeleine L’Engle tale is finally coming to the big screen on March 9, 2018, thanks to Disney and director Ava DuVernay. The sci-fi story about a girl tesseracting her way through time to find her missing father will star newcomer Storm Reid alongside stars like Oprah Winfrey,Mindy Kaling,Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Pine.By Atsushi Nishijima/Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.

<em>Solo: A Star Wars Story</em>

Solo: A Star Wars Story

After some catastrophic ups and downs, Han Solo’s origin story will finally be revealed to us on May 25, 2018. The Star Wars spin-off stars Alden Ehrenreich as the galactic smuggler and also features Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Emilia Clarke playing a mysterious character named Kira.From Lucasfilm Ltd./Everett Collection.

Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.

[contf] [contfnew]

Vanity Fair

[contfnewc] [contfnewc]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here