"Soundtrack is part La La Land, part the 'Wise Up' scene from Magnolia, part the Movements from The OA, and part This Is Us. Oh, wait! And also a little Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," says Jen Chaney of the Netflix musical drama that was originally a Fox pilot. "That might be the only way to describe this bold but very wobbly new series created by Joshua Safran, who also created Quantico, wrote and executive-produced Gossip Girl, and — most relevant here — acted as showrunner during season two of Smash." Chaney adds: "In any musical, especially on scripted TV where we’re generally more accustomed to watching people talk, every attempt to stage a song is the equivalent of jumping off a high dive. It can result in a very graceful entry or turn into a sloppy belly flop, and the difference between the two can come from just a tiny tilt sideways. Soundtrack’s choices occasionally land gracefully — its eighth episode, by far its best, succeeds on all the fronts that a love story peppered with musical numbers should. (More on that episode shortly). But too often, the numbers are, if not outright belly flops, certainly dives that give off way too much splash. An even bigger issue is the often somber nature of Soundtrack’s sweeping story, which sets a tone that makes it even harder to stage musical numbers that don’t come across as pretentious parodies of themselves."
Soundtrack is a superbly schmaltzy musical melodrama: "Soundtrack is not subtle or quiet or low-key. It is bold, big and unabashedly soapy. It wears its emotional excesses with pride," says Rebecca Nicholson. "There are twists and turns so manipulative it is almost cruel. When everything starts to fit together, when the connections start to make sense, joyfully and tragically, it is satisfying, in the same way that settling in to watch a favorite film that you’ve seen 20 times before is satisfying. Soundtrack has made a mix tape out of melodrama, and I suspect it is going to be huge, and far more than a one-hit-wonder."
Soundtrack has good stories, but it doesn't put its lip-syncing to good use: "As any drag performer knows, there are ways to lip-sync a song while doing justice to the core emotionality of it," says Caroline Framke. "Yet that lesson seems to have escaped most of the actors on Soundtrack, who largely depend on James Alsop’s (wonderful!) choreography rather than their own performances to carry the weight of the moment."