When Ben Mulroney, host of etalk, came onstage at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on February 10 and described HBO’s new miniseries Vinyl as “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”, he could not have been more accurate.
Created by Martin Scorsese (GoodFellas, Raging Bull), Mick Jagger (lead singer of The Rolling Stones), and Terence Winter (writer of The Wolf of Wall Street), Vinyl is a 1970s period drama about the record industry in New York City.
Mary Ann Turcke, president of Bell Media, claimed that the show was the “HBO-est of HBO shows ever created”. After lead actors Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire, Ant-Man) and Max Casella (Boardwalk Empire, Inside Llewyn Davis) described their experiences on the show, the exclusive event was underway for the Canadian pre-screening of the new miniseries. The pilot episode sees protagonist Richie Finestra drinking straight out of the bottle in his car, snorting coke off his rearview mirror (after breaking it off), and partaking in the wildest party he has ever been to.
Obviously in the vein of Martin Scorsese (without giving too much away), we see cocaine use, a myriad of musical choices, tons of graphic sex, and—you probably guessed it—someone winds up dead in the trunk of a car, only to be ditched by the side of the road.
Whenever Scorsese brings something to the table, it will always echo his previous works, with voiceovers, flashbacks, swearing, and murder. However, with Mick Jagger as executive producer, this brainchild of Scorsese puts music at the forefront. That’s not only referencing the countless songs precisely picked for the show, but also the basis of the entire plot. There’s punk, rock and roll, jazz, blues—the show doesn’t subscribe itself to just one genre.
Vinyl, like other works of Scorsese, at its core shows that life is not easy. His films show that crime doesn’t pay, and that it takes a lot of work to get to the top, whether it involves a boxing ring, a gun to the head, or bending the rules of the casinos or the stock market. In Vinyl, we see that getting a record deal with a label is difficult, but more so, we see the ins and outs of those working in the record industry, trying to keep their names alive and to continue pumping out more records. Of course, though, we see the flawed individuals cutting corners to succeed.
Vinyl, just from the pilot episode, is pure art. I encourage everyone, even if music does not interest you, to watch Vinyl… Just not with your parents or younger siblings, for fear of an extremely awkward experience.
Vinyl premiered on February 14 and is a 10-part miniseries that will air on HBO at 9:00 p.m. every Sunday.