Everything that is wrong in „Mozart in the Jungle“, Season 4, Episode 3 „Significant Lover“

Rodrigo is back! And this time he has to manage a household with dozens of kids, as Hailey has morphed into an uncontrollable birthing machine…no wait, it was a dream!
As the lovable series about classical musicians arguing, doing drugs and having lots of sex starts its 4th season, the writers are clearly on the look for new and crazy ideas to keep Rodrigo busy (he’s a social worker! he’s a waiter! he’s a philosopher!), Pembridge in the picture (he teaches Hailey! he humps Gloria! he’s a pop star!) and Hailey as lovable as possible (she’s a talented conductor! she teaches tweeting kids! she visits her parents!).
Of course this also means that a lot of stuff is going on that would never happen in real life classical music world. Or would it? Let’s find out…

Episode 3 „Significant Lover“


1) Why is Rodrigo so poor that he has to pay with valuables? By all accounts he is still conducting a major philharmonic orchestra, even with sub-standard conductor’s wages he could easily afford to rent half a room in a (shared!) NY appartment, ESPECIALLY when „Hai Lai“ can afford it too!

2) 1:21 I have never heard that one could impress the jury of a conducting competition with a random rallentando, except if it is part of a clever artistic concept about the piece.

3) 1:30 What? Hailey can’t find a single female composer who wants her to premiere her piece? I think in New York alone there would be hundreds of young female composers who would be EXTREMELY happy if their orchestra piece was played, even by a yet unknown conductor. Composers are ALWAYS happy if somebody wants to play their work. And orchestra opportunities are relatively rare.

4) 2:00 ff. It’s weird that all the orchestra musicians would visit this reception BEFORE their concert, in full tuxedo attire, with glasses of champagne in their hands. This would only be the case in a really important fundraising event where they would play something, and then only the musicians involved would be present. The others are pretty happy to switch to tuxedo only minutes before the concert, leaving the drinking and partying for AFTER the concert (for most orchestra musicians playing a concert is so much routine that they simply go home directly afterwards, but that is of course too unglamorous for a TV series). Ok, the bloody Pope is coming, but that would be another reason to NOT drink before that concert.

5) 3:00 ff. Just that you know: „Caroline loves the color yellow, otters, Beethoven opus 74, Mozart opera, Kinhaven, the smell of rosemary, and the sound of a janky mandolin.“ (from Caroline Shaw’s website). She is a real composer!

6) 3.22 It’s so funny that Shaw says „I should leave“ to Hailey and Rodrigo, when Rodrigo is actually the conductor of the concert she is visiting! It won’t start without him, that’s for sure, so as long as she talks to him she’s safe not to miss anything…

7) 5:30 Why is Hailey so surprised, when Shaw has no piece in store to be premiered? Professional Pulitzer-prize-winning composers like Shaw only write when they are commissioned, and then the commissioning orchestra will premiere their piece. So it would be unusual to say the least if Shaw had an unpremiered piece in her drawer for exactly the orchestration of Hailey’s group. But surely Shaw has already finished pieces that Hailey could play? Every composer worth their salt would immediately try to propose something like this to Hailey. Is Shaw so arrogant that she is not happy about her pieces being performed?

8) 6:30 Needless to say, Rodrigo again conducts in a completely different meter than the music played. Perhaps he wants to impress the incredibly vain Pope who demands that an entrance fanfare is played when he enters a concert hall?

9) 7:00 Unamplified speaking in a large hall? Rodrigo, really?

10) 7:20 Ok, that speech about Hailey would be REALLY embarassing in real life.

11) 8:00 ff. this kind of loud talking during such a festive concert would be considered also really embarassing.

12) 9:05 That handshake after holding the dead „roof rat“ (does this species actually exist? Ok, I checked, it DOES!) is disgusting, even among rat lovers. Wouldn’t exterminators wear gloves or something? Especially when using poison?

13) 10:43 It’s indeed a wonderful surprise that Masi Oka from once very good SF series „Heroes“ (I’m talking first season here only) has teleported into the New York Symphony building. I wonder what his time travelling agenda is?

14) I don’t really get why everybody is making such a big fuss about Rodrigo being together with Hailey, a professional oboist who often plays with the orchestra. That is not a very unusual liason in the classical music world, musicians meet in their profession and fall in love. It happens all the time. Actually Rodrigo’s and Hailey’s love is the most realistic element of the whole series! Also neither Rodrigo nor Hailey are married (ok, with Rodrigo we’re not so sure), so there is nothing in the least scandalous in their relationship. Even the age difference is not that big. So why is everybody acting like it would be really bad for Hailey? Why is everybody so mean, even Caroline Shaw?

15) 12:20 It is made to appear like a common term in the classical music world, but „wet rehearsals“ is not at all a common term, even if reading about James Levine’s exploits would one make think so. Also drinking beer on stage during rehearsals is an absolute no-go, except if you privately prepare for a silly carnival concert or something. Some classical musicians drink secretly, though, usually because they are scared of the conductor or have other problems.

16) 13:49 Rodrigo stating knowledge about Mozart’s „Requiem“ that is extremely common among classical music fans, and than making a big problem out if it is kind of embarassing.

17) 14:30 ff. It is very funny what film composers think „contemporary music“ should sound like. Small hint: not like this pastiche! Also it is weird that the dancers are not extremely annoyed that Rodrigo walks directly into their choreography, this is like somebody walking into a restaurant he never has been, immediately entering the kitchen and everybody there keeps working like nothing is happening.

18) 19:00 And the (awful) music just starts, out of nowhere, exactly in the tempo of Rodrigo. And even weirder: the dancers seem to hear it as well!

19) I am sure all dancers and choreographers who watched this winced about Egon’s „choreography“ concept, because it really, really sucks. „No audience“ would be a blessing!

20) 19:40 Why is Pemberton interrupting? Contrary to what one would expect this supposedly third-rate orchestra just played „Egmont“ with a perfect large concert hall sound and perfect intonation. Matthew Maher is great in that role, by the way.

21) 19:45 Things a conductor never says to an orchestra no. 251: „Could you possibly…eh…tighten!“. Huh???

22) 20:00 I am not talking about Malcolm McDowell’s incredibly bad conducting here, but at the end of that shot he clearly gives a cue, and THEN he decides to stop, but the orchestra miraculously read his mind and didn’t play anyway.

23) 21:10 Again, Pemberton, this orchestra is NOT garbage, a garbage orchestra would have played these passages quite differently.

24) 22:19 Hailey’s roommate’s bow is clearly not touching the instrument here, but still there is sound…

25) Is this really Caroline Shaw’s music? I’m not a big fan, to be honest…and I would also argue that a typical NY street would be too loud to have this tiny chamber orchestra project up to a penthouse. Shaw would probably not even notice.

27) 22:45 „Great job, guys“. Hey, they just played for 20 seconds only!

28) 22:50 No composer on this planet would throw down the score of a „new piece“ out of the window like this. And why does she actually have a new piece like this handy?

29) Isn’t that a bit weird for Hailey when Rodrigo constantly has these hallucinations and just leaves the room listening to „voices“? Shouldn’t she be very worried for him? I would.