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A variety of words come to mind when asked to describe classical music. Edgy is typically not among them. However, with the premiere of Amazon Studios’ new show, Mozart In The Jungle, it seems as though everything old is new again.

The show centers on a young oboist in New York City as she navigates the competitive, bizarre, and at times scandalous world of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. With an eclectic cast of orchestra members, including a drug-dealing percussionist and a fiery young conductor, the show certainly lives up to its unofficial subtitle, “sex, drugs, and classical music.”

Mozart in the Jungle adds a jolt of youthfulness and more sexual tension than a Grade 8 dance to the classical music scene, a world usually depicted as stuffy and uptight. Right from the pilot episode though, this idea is banished completely with a party scene full of young musicians playing a drinking game where complex pieces of music are played while consuming an ever-increasing number of shots.

What makes Mozart such a joy to watch is that it sheds light on a world not often shown on television. It stands out from the slew of medical dramas and cop shows because of its quirky plot and characters. At times it is funny, full of lewd jokes about how different musicians perform in bed depending on their instruments, but at others it is profoundly moving. When the orchestra is not performing to the satisfaction of the young Maestro, he takes the entire troupe to an empty lot in the middle of New York to hold a rehearsal outdoors. As locals notice the music filling their neighbourhood, they leave their homes to find the source of the sound, leading to one of the most feel-good scenes in recent television history. This is all done perfectly, with the moment teetering on the line of cheesy without crossing it.

Mozart is not without flaws, though. The recurring character of the Maestro’s violently passionate, borderline manic violinist wife is somewhat overdone. Were she a more prominent part of the story, she would have grown tiresome quickly, but her fairly limited role does little to impede the show. The other most noticeable issue is that in having a large cast, each with his or her own backstory, some subplots trail off unresolved or lack a satisfactory conclusion, but none are so important that they detract from the major storyline.

Ultimately, the show ends on a high note, with the central cast members having either gotten their just desserts, or achieved personal victories. The finale is open-ended enough for a second season, but there is enough closure to leave the audience relatively satisfied. Does our heroine become part of the New York Philharmonic? Does she feel satisfied? Maybe it’s best if we don’t know.

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