We stated earlier that Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover has been on an absolute tear as of late. His acting career started to take off with his role on Community, his music career blew up seemingly overnight, he just landed the role for young Lando Calrissian, and now he got the opportunity to develop his own TV series, Atlanta, for FX. You would be hard pressed to find anybody hotter than him right now. He’s just an extremely talented individual who’s shown he has sharp wit and a unique perspective that allows him to bridge the gap between the inner city and the suburbs. So I had high hopes for what a TV series fully developed by him could have in store.
He’s just an extremely talented individual who’s shown he has sharp wit and a unique perspective that allows him to bridge the gap between the inner city and the suburbs.
The basic premise of Atlanta is that it’s a semi-autobiographical comedy/drama about coming up through Atlanta. Glover stars in it as Earnest ‘Earn’ Marks who’s dirt broke, struggling, and trying to figure out life while trying to provide for his daughter. He sees an opportunity when his cousin, Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles, starts to blow up as a local rapper and convinces him to let him manage his career.
It’s intimate, almost akin to FX’s other slow burn comedy Louie, but with it’s own voice and tone.
The story is there, but it’s not the main focus of the show; instead it’s more about their day to day lives and various interactions with the city of Atlanta. I really didn’t know what to expect as the promo for the show didn’t really give anything away. But what I did get was a surprisingly thoughtful and subdued series that didn’t have as nearly as much quirkiness that I was expecting from a Donald Glover production. Outside of one episode (which was completely wacky and fucking hilarious) and a handful of instances here and there, they play things pretty straight. The plot at large doesn’t really matter all that much; in fact, there’s a ton of plot holes and unanswered questions that nonchalantly get swept aside for the more personal moments they all have. It’s intimate, almost akin to FX’s other slow burn comedy Louie, but with it’s own voice and tone.
With that being said, the show still manages to be absolutely fucking hilarious. The dialogue is fantastic, there’s a ton of sharp wit, and some of the smallest moments provide some of the biggest laughs. There’s Justin Bieber (except he’s black), the Migos make an appearance, and there’s an entire episode dedicated to a black teenager who identifies as a 35 year old white man (transracial identity). The sheer amount of love and attention that went into making this season can be felt throughout and it makes for a surprisingly heartfelt comedy. My only real gripe with the season is that I thought music, in particular hip-hop, would have a larger presence on the show.
My only real gripe with the season is that I thought music, in particular hip-hop, would have a larger presence on the show.
The casting for Atlanta is amazing; Glover basically plays himself as ‘Earn’ and he’s quirky, funny, and the heart of the show. Brian Tyree Henry as ‘Paper Boi’ is hilarious and gives him surprising depth as a character who both relishes and struggles with the images his rap persona portray him as. Zazie Beetz as Van is the perfect pairing to Glover’s ‘Earn’ and the chemistry between the two feels real. They’re both just trying to figure out life and how to raise a kid while doing the very millennial ‘together but not together’ thing. The one who stole the show most for me though had to be Darius, played by Lakeith Stanfield. He’s an offbeat, stoner, conspiracy theorist who steals the show every time he’s on screen.
Have you seen Season 1 of Atlanta? What’d you think about it? Did it turn out as you expected? Did you like the intimate nature of the show? Who was your favorite character? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your rating for Season 1.