Starring: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Keith Stanfield
Sometimes an actor leaves a show for a project, and the project sucks. If this is Donald’s post Community project, I’m OK with that. In many ways, it has potential to be a better show than Community (which is literally one of my favorite shows of all time) because it has the opportunity to make strong social commentary that wouldn’t have been taken seriously on Community.
Atlanta tells the story of Earn (Glover) a nice young man just trying to make his way in the world, who finds out that his cousin is Paper Boi (Henry), a local rapper about to blow up. So, he decides to get his life together and try and be his manager, taking them both to the next level. Along for the ride is Paper Boi’s best friend, Darius (Stanfield), who is quite a unique individual.
I think Atlanta is a unique series, yet it feels somewhat inspired by shows like Louie, that are very “slice of life”. I think Atlanta is planning to be a black version of that show, representing an underrepresented culture. It’s hard to tell from the first two episodes where Atlanta is headed, but that seems to be the case, with the second episode feeling very much like that.
Atlanta is one of the more promising new shows, in that I think it still has somewhere to grow, and didn’t hit the ground running as fast as some of the others. For example, Designated Survivor is an intense action packed pilot that tried to cram a lot into one hour. Atlanta is more of a slow burn, but it was just enough to keep me wanting to watch more. I still feel like I’m getting to know the characters, and not because the show is poorly written, but rather it’s one of the few shows so well written that you’re learning different nuances about the characters. Usually at this point I’d be lamenting that not knowing what kind of show you’d be or who these characters are is a bad thing, but Atlanta is the one show that feels like it’s doing that by choice, slowly reeling you in. In many ways, it’s more rewarding.
We’re in the golden age of TV, where TV shows are arguably as good as movies, and Atlanta continues to add to that roster. I suspect it will be in contention for Emmy’s a year from now, and Glover might finally be recognized for the brilliant talent that he is.
FINAL GRADE: A