Through Alex Ross’ blog, I read Anne Midgette’s review of the new Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. Though I haven’t yet seen the series (and, since I don’t want to pay for a year’s subscription to Amazon to see one show (or even two), I probably won’t), Midgette’s criticism rang a little irrelevant to me. Her central argument is that the show gets little right about the world of classical music, despite opening with this disclaimer:
The entertainment industry is famous for getting things wrong about specialized fields, of course. Nurses are said to quail watching Grey’s Anatomy, and House of Cards or Scandal hardly present realistic portrayals of how things are done in Washington. I had friends who enjoyed the Mozart in the Jungle pilot and said I should enjoy it in the spirit in which it was intended, rather than focusing on what they got wrong.
Exactly. Makers of TV shows have precisely one duty: to make good TV (by whatever metric you choose to measure “good”). Christopher Nolan summed it up nicely when he said of making Inception: “If the research contradicts what you want to do, you tend to go ahead and do it anyway. So at a certain point I realized that if you’re trying to reach an audience, being as subjective as possible and really trying to write from something genuine is the way to go.”
Midgette’s review reads to me like a Tolkien fan criticizing the Lord of the Rings movies; like scientists carping about bad science in Gravity. She misses the point by confusing setting with plot: Jaws isn’t about a shark; Moby Dick isn’t about whaling; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy isn’t about spies; and Mozart in the Jungle, as far as I can tell from what I’ve read, isn’t about classical music.