When Atlanta aired late last year, it was quickly met with widespread critical praise. The show follows two poor cousins trying to make it big in the title city's rap industry, and it sure packs a punch. Having just taken out the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series (Musical or Comedy), it seems #Atlanta is a show worth watching. It is. Here are five reasons why.
1. Donald Glover
#DonaldGlover is a genius. The musician and actor, best known under his stage name Childish Gambino, created, produced and wrote Atlanta. He also plays the main character, Earn, an intelligent young man struggling to provide for his child and partner in a city that won't cut him a break. We follow his efforts to do something positive with his life while coping with the dark side of Atlanta's black neighborhood.
Glover is perfect as Earn, giving us an empathetic "nice-guy" who is lost, immature and extremely poor. We feel for Earn and want him to succeed. Glover's magic lies in creating a character who is very unexceptional and very regular. He is as real as his situation, his upbringing and his surroundings. 10/10, Glover.
The soundtrack to Atlanta is insane. It's diverse, and brilliant. There's jazz, soul, hip hop and rap, all expertly selected. Tracks range from '50s and '60s artists like Sam Cooke and George Benson, to current ones like Lee Fields and Michael Kiwanuka. There's also the rap track "Paper Boi," which was specifically written for the show as Earn's cousin Alfred's hit single. It's a banger.
Keith Stanfield is Darius, Paper Boi's hilarious sidekick of sorts. Darius is a well-meaning, drug f**cked visionary with some wild ideas. Like Earn, however, he is also a victim of his situation. He makes the show worth watching alone.
4. (Lack Of) Plot
Atlanta's plot (or lack of) is another highlight. There are no extreme events, no cliffhangers, no jaw-dropping moments. Not a lot happens, actually. The lack of drama gives the show a realistic feel, and this is why, despite it being classed as a comedy, I found Atlanta bittersweet. Underneath the humor, there's a serious undertone — the feeling that Earn's predicament is not just his own is all too real.
Where Atlanta really shines is in its relevance. Talking to Deadline, Glover says "I wanted to show real people in real situations." The show tackles a host of issues that are prevalent in American society, from class, drugs and racial inequality to musical expression and poverty. In the second episode, the issue of police brutality towards African Americans is addressed as Earn watches a black man get violently beaten in a prison holding area. Later, in the epic "Montague" talk show episode, the concept of trans-racialism is discussed. Atlanta grapples with very real issues in a fresh and affecting way.
This is an important show that deserves the high praise it has received. Keep a look out for the second season in 2018.
If you've seen Atlanta, let me know what you thought. If you haven't, check out the trailer below: