“Neon” follows young 20-somethings who strive to try and make it in the music industry.
While not particularly original, the Netflix series has an easy charm.
Created by journalist Shay Serrano and Max Searle (“Dave”), the series follows three Generation Z friends who leave their hometown of Fort Myers, Florida, and head to the bright lights and bigger city of Miami to pursue success.
The group of friends includes aspiring talent manager Ness (Emma Ferreira), aspiring reggaeton artist Santi (Tyler Dean Flores), who has a viral song and the personality of a golden retriever, and Santi’s creative director, Felix (Jordan Mendoza).
Shows about young people in the same industry trying to make it are a dime a dozen, but it’s notable that in “Neon,” the three friends aren’t all aspiring singers competing with each other. They have each pursued different sides of the music business and are all invested in Santi’s success. It has a less violent feel than other shows of its kind.
The three leads are relatively unknown, but “Neon” has some bigger actors in supporting roles, including Jordana Brewster of the “Fast and Furious” franchise as Gina, a socialite with shady business dealings, and Santiago Cabrera (“Heroes”) as music
There are also several cameos from real artists, including Jhayco, Ken-Y, Jon Z and Jota Rosa (Daddy Yankee and infamous talent manager Scooter Braun are also among the show’s executive producers).
Naturally, as the three friends plan to start their road to fame in Miami, not everything goes according to plan: their first apartment is shittier than the photos made it look online (the ever-optimistic Santi smiles and insists, “That’s good!”). . Santi’s public “relationship” with pop star Isa (Genesis Rodriguez) goes awry. The band’s initial meeting with a recording artist is not what it seems.
The show falls victim to some cliched moments in the “artist trying to make it big” trope, including the over-the-top scene where Santi first hears his song on the radio and yells to his friends, “This is it, this is destiny!”
“Neon” isn’t reinventing the wheel, and it’s not even the only series in the past few months to feature such moments. Prime Video’s Daisy Jones & the Six was a similar “artist rises from obscurity to fame” series with similar trappings, and many scenes like this were in the controversial HBO show The Idol.
However, “Neon” stands out for focusing on the reggae subgenre, with dialogue and lyrics often peppered with Spanish as well as English. It also isn’t too concerned with following its main characters as they tire or have a “fall” to match their rise.
Santi smiles a lot more than he thinks.
Although “Neon” also sometimes goes too far into the absurd for the sake of comedy, it doesn’t lose sight of the central thread of the narrative: the trio’s friendship.
It doesn’t overstay its welcome, with lively half-hour episodes that deliver laughs and heartfelt moments in equal measure.