Five minutes into Donald Glover’s new comedy Atlanta and the first words out of my mouth are “Oh shit!”
And not the bad kind either, it’s the kind of “oh shit” that lets you know I’m captivated.
The show follows two cousins as one rises in the ATL rap scene. Glover plays a sort of awkward genius who, like most people I know in their 20s, is still trying to figure it out and wants to help further his cousin’s career. His cousin, Alfred aka Paper Boi (with an “i” of course) is played by Brian Tyree Henry whose character is navigating his rising stardom.
Atlanta, is everything you would expect from Donald Glover if you’ve been paying attention to him as an actor, a comedian and a rapper. It has a dry wit, some of the jokes come so quick you almost miss it. It’s also smart and relevant giving nods to films like Pulp Fiction and makes references to both Fetty Wap and Gucci Mane, all the while taking the time out to give voice to a plethora of issues including mental illness and toxic masculinity, just to name a few.
And it’s so incredibly black y’all. I have personally never been to Atlanta, but I felt like I know it a little more now, the city itself being a character I can’t wait for them to explore.
Now for the bad news:
The stylization of Atlanta is different, especially in comparison to other shows about rappers, but the story doesn’t seem that unique.
I don’t want to give anything away, but there is a particular scene in the second episode with a trans woman that could’ve dug in a little more. The show is clearly taking on a format where it mirrors issues without commentary, but this scene needed more than that, in order for viewers to fully understand the issue in its entirety and how it affects the humanity of both characters in that scene.
Of course, it is important to keep in mind that these are the first two episodes of the show, so growth is (hopefully) evident. If handled properly this show can do great things, make sure you check it out, because at the very least you know the soundtrack is lit.
Atlanta airs on FX Tuesdays at 10pm. If you don’t have cable, the show is available on FX’s website and app. (Editors note: Queen Sugar’s regular time slot will be Wednesdays at 10. No more scheduling conflict! —Connie)
Stephanie Francis is an aspiring journalist with a TV addiction. She has been published in a multitude of small papers including the Gloucester Times, the Salem News and the Boston Globe. You can find a collect of her published work at adventuringsomewhere.wordpress.com. And her live tweets @stephsfrancis.