After an incredible first season, the FX star-show Atlanta is a hit. It is a coming-of-age story about chasing fame, success and the American dream in the southern hip-hop scene. The show has received praise for the realistic depiction of black lives.
The series follows Earnest “Earn” Marks (Donald Glover), during his daily life in Atlanta, as he tries to redeem himself to his best friend and mother of his daughter Vanessa “Van” Keefer (Zazie Beetz). Once he realizes his cousin Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry), a drug dealer and on-the-rise rapper, is on the verge fame, he seeks to become Alfred’s manager. Along for the ride is Darius (Keith Stanfield), Alfred’s innovative right-hand man.
Like a layer cake of African-American life, the Atlanta of Atlanta is weaved with showcases of street and bourgeois, old school and hipster. Glover expands his scope, examining black culture in Atlanta and the lives of the characters. From Earn’s roast by his family, to Vanessa wearing a hair scarf before removing her Bantu knots, to the lemon pepper wet, Atlanta brings real people with real stories and real issues to the screen. While it uses the stereotypical cliches of “black gangbangers” living in the hood who either sell drugs or pursue hip-hop dreams, the show looks seriously at the pressures felt by someone like Alfred, who despite wanting to be a rapper, worries about the societal demands to project a street-thug image in order to seem authentic.
Unlike conventional hip-hop or music-based TV series, Atlanta has this real focus on character with a grounded and surreal style to it. What is particularly enjoyable is the way the show captures interesting social, economical and sort of down-right depressing ideologies through the use of humorous, clever dialogue.
They discuss important topics in the black community, such as transphobia, homophobia, mental health and police brutality. The reactions of the black men waiting in prison while a man is being reunited with his ex-girlfriend whom he realizes is transgender or a regularly arrested, mentally ill man drinking out of the toilet are not censored. In its honesty, Atlanta sheds light into holes in the black community, but it presents the issues authentically. Much of that is thanks to the all-black writing staff and cast, a rarity in the entertainment industry, who bring life to this new and hilarious show. If you enjoy Black-ish, another socially conscious show on black issues, which you should also watch if you have not, then you are sure to adore this show.
There is a unique feel and vibe from the show from the first two episodes. It is unconventional, authentic and absolutely beautiful to watch. Not to mention the soundtrack on this show is superb and showcases talent people would not normally hear on TV, such as Kodak Black, Cousin Stizz and many more.
Atlanta finished its first season on Nov. 1 after premiering Sept. 6. Earning plenty of critical acclaim, a second season, consisting of another 10 episodes, will debut in 2017. Watch it on FXNOW.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Atlanta‘s Facebook page.
Maleeha Coleburn is a freshman journalism and government and politics double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.