5 Must-See TV Shows About the Music Industry

Gael García Bernal as conductor Rodrigo De Souza in Mozart in the Jungle.
Gael García Bernal as conductor Rodrigo De Souza in Mozart in the Jungle. Sarah Shatz
If you're wondering why there's a sudden deluge of television programming revolving around the world of music, look no further than a show featuring high school kids earnestly singing “Don’t Stop Believin’" by Journey.

Nearly a decade ago, the success of Fox’s Glee made other networks realize the potential of creating shows centered around performers pouring their hearts out behind a microphone.

Now, as viewing habits focus more on streaming content, there's so much to choose from that it can prove tough to settle on what to watch next. That's why Phoenix New Times has put together a guide to some of the best TV shows about music that are streaming now.

The criteria for this list is simple: The storyline must be centered on the music industry — whether it's a band trying to make it, a struggling symphony, a rapper on the up and up, or a record label in disarray. (Which is why you won't find Crazy Ex-Girlfriend here.) And all the shows are all scripted, ruling out reality competitions like The Voice.

Here's what to watch next.

Mozart In The Jungle
Sex, drugs, and Mahler. This half-hour dramedy pulls back the velvet curtain of the New York Symphony to reveal simmering resentments, corporate meddling, artistic passion, and torrid affairs.

The show revolves around young oboist Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke), who gets a chance at her dream job from the symphony’s new and idiosyncratic conductor Rodrigo De Souza (Gael García Bernal in his Golden Globe-winning role). While working her way up the ladder, she meets an eclectic cast of characters who help her discover why she is passionate about playing music in the first place.

Mozart In The Jungle is based on Blair Tindall’s memoir of the same name, lending a sense of authenticity to a world that few viewers are familiar with. Having actor/musician Jason Schwartzman and About A Boy’s Paul Weitz behind the scenes to guide the show around the typical workplace sitcom cliches has kept it from flaming out too quickly. There’s a trove of drama here that will keep your inner band geek happy.

The show's currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Its fourth season dropped on February 16.

click to enlarge
The Flight of the Conchords are not crying.
Nicole Rivelli/Courtesy of HBO
Flight of the Conchords
This HBO comedy series follows the exploits of “New Zealand’s fourth-most-popular folk parody duo” as they try to make it in America. When we meet the clueless twosome, played by Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, they are more focused on meeting women than their careers. The pair's social circle includes a neglectful band manager (Rhys Darby) and a single, slightly unhinged fan (Kristen Schaal). The indignities only get worse. McKenzie takes a job as a human billboard in one episode. In another, the musicians try their luck at sex work to make ends meet.

What keeps the show’s leads from utter narcissism is their stupid sweetness and determination to make a living from their art. It also helps that McKenzie and Clement write catchy and uproarious songs, from apocalyptic tunes about robot invasions to ditties about David Bowie’s nipples. The show ended after its second season in 2009, but McKenzie and Clement still perform to sold-out audiences around the world. And they are reportedly making a return to HBO this spring for an hourlong special.

Flight of the Conchords is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, as well as HBO Go and HBO Now.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil