While the music industry might be in the midst of turmoil due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, there is plenty of music-based television content to help us get through these turbulent times.
With live music entertainment coming to a screeching halt, concerts being indefinitely postponed, music enthusiasts are suffering from a withdrawal from the possible experiences they could be having due to the nationwide restrictions set in place to protect people from contracting the potentially life-threatening disease. Tragically, the world has lost a multitude of influential musical talents due to COVID-19 including The Arrows' band member Alan Merrill, legendary jazz musician Ellis Marsalis, Emmy Award-winner and Fountains of Wayne's band member Adam Schlesinger, and many more.
Since many of us are currently forced into self-isolation and probably won't be able to witness our favorites musical acts in action for quite some time, AXS has compiled a list of must-watch music industry television shows to get you through your quarantine music withdrawals.
1. "Nashville" (2012) – Hulu, Amazon Prime Video
"Nashville" was one of the first shows to chronicle the cutthroat behind-the-scenes depths of country music. The show originally debuted on ABC in 2012 and followed fictitious Tennessee-based singer/songwriter Rayna James (played by Connie Britton) whose legendary country superstardom is slowly fading in the presence of up-and-coming country songstress, Juliette Barnes (played by Hayden Panettiere). Before officially coming to an end after six seasons, Nashville found its way to CMT, garnered millions of watchers weekly, and even featured its very own live aftershow entitled "NashChat" before its final episode in July 2018.
2. "Empire" (2015) – FOX, Hulu
Lee Daniel's brainchild in "Empire" has become a world-renowned hit over the past half-decade. Whether it be the real-life hip-hop personality cameos, jarring plotlines, or off-screen scandals, "Empire" has become must-watch television. The show follows hip-hop mogul and Empire Entertainment CEO, Lucious Lyon (played by Terrence Howard) who is forced to pick a successor to his "empire" upon learning about a rare medical condition that will result in his early demise. Lyon is forced to choose between his three sons, Empire CFO Andre (played by Trai Byers), R&B singer-songwriter Jamal (played by Jussie Smollett), and rapper Hakeem (played by Bryshere Y. Gray). The sixth and final season of "Empire" debuted in September 2019.
3. Glee (2009) – FOX, Netflix
"Glee" isn't your traditional music industry television series, but it did have an insane impact on pop culture that the music industry could not deny. The show alone garnered hundreds of millions of dollars in live concerts, album sales, and merch revenue. The highly-popularized comedy-drama centers on the fictional William McKinley High School glee club, the New Directions, which competes on the choir competition circuit. Throughout the show's six-season run, Glee focused on a myriad of different socio-political topics from race, sexuality, gender identity, and more, which allowed the show to become a centerpiece for some of society's most sensitive topics. Before officially coming to an end in March 2015, "Glee" ran a total of 121 episodes and featured over 729 musical performances.
4. "Atlanta" (2016) – FX, Hulu
The surreal comedy, "Atlanta," created by and starring Donald Glover, follows his character Earn as he attempts to manage his cousin Alfred AKA "Paper Boi" (played by Brian Tyree Henry) throughout the wild realm of the hip-hop industry. While the show's focal points are about Alfred's rise as an up-and-coming rapper, "Atlanta," is one of the most beautifully-terrorizing psychedelic watching experiences in television today. Whether Earn is attempting to rekindle his relationship with ex-girlfriend and mother of his child Vanessa "Van" Keefer (played by Zazie Beetz) or win over acceptance from his parents, bizarre almost unfathomable predicaments find their way into his life. With the untimely death of his father, Glover has postponed production for the show. Season three of Atlanta will debut in 2021 in two-parts.
5. "Vinyl" (2016) – HBO Now, Hulu
Any television series created by a conglomerate of Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Rich Cohen, and Terence Winter is must-see TV. These four artistic geniuses came together to curate a period piece entitled, Vinyl, which follows the life and times of American Century Records founder and president, Richie Finestra (played by Bobby Cannavale) as he navigates the music industry during the musical renaissance of the 1970s. With hip-hop, punk, and disco on the rise, Finestra struggles to keep his label afloat before experiencing a life-changing event that rekindled his passion in the music industry. The HBO television series embodies sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but unfortunately was discontinued after just a single season. It's still a must-watch though!
6. "Dave" (2020) – FX, Hulu
"Dave" is the newest installment in music industry-themed television as it follows a fictionalized version of the rapper Lil Dicky, who is determined to be the best rapper alive. The "Freaky Friday" rapper plays an overtly suburban neurotic version of himself who's extremely insecure about his mangled genitalia he flawlessly describes throughout the show. Utilizing his real name, Dave Burd, Lil Dicky calls upon prominent hip-hop artists such as YG, Young Thug, Trippie Redd, Gunna, and more to make cameos throughout the show's inaugural season. While "Dave" is meant to be comedic, the harsh realities of self-reflection, mental health, relationships, and uncertainty take the show to extremely dark spaces that make its once smiling viewers uncomfortable in some of the most vulnerable ways possible.
7. "The Get Down" (2016) – Netflix
Set in the Bronx borough of New York in the 1970s, "The Get Down" follows the events that took place during the birth of hip-hop. While the infrastructure of New York was in the worst shape of all-time, a group of local youth including the likes of Ezekiel "Zeke" "Books" Figuero (played by Justice Smith), Curtis "Shaolin Fantastic" (played by Shameik Moore), and others create a DJ and emcee collective that rivals other crews around New York City. The rise of disco, cocaine, and growing crime syndicates all stand in the way of "The Get Down Brothers" as they strive to make their art form a profitable commodity. Unfortunately, "The Get Down" was canceled after its two-part first season after the show became the most expensive television production in history costing Netflix $120 million to create just eleven episodes. Netflix was attempting to make a visual masterpiece that ultimately bankrupted the show. Fortunately, it did come aesthetically pleasing but wasn't worth the cost to continue producing.