Donald Glover is not your average human being. He is a multi-talented wunderkind and possibly the most creative person to come about in the last decade. His career path is one that I have personally been following since he was a writer and occasional guest star on “30 Rock.” As a big fan of his work, I always felt that the way that he was portrayed on television was what other people thought of him: a nerdy black guy beloved by both black and white people. Glover as a musician is far from that. His music work as Childish Gambino is much darker, and feels like a more authentic version of himself.
That was until “Atlanta.” Glover’s newest project has been in the works since 2013 when he left the NBC television series “Community.” For the last couple of years, I doubted if the show would ever make it to air; months would go by without news about the project, fans were left in the dark and there was much speculation to what exactly “Atlanta” would be about. Even more importantly: would it even be good? After three years, the answer is definitely yes.
“Atlanta” is about Earn (Glover), a Princeton dropout who is back in Atlanta and technically homeless. We see Earn working at a dead end job when his co worker shows him a new music video by a local rapper named Paperboi, who turns out to be Earn’s cousin, Alfred. Earn realizes that he has an opportunity to make his life and the life of his daughter better, and sets out to become Alfred’s manager. Managing Alfred will be Earn’s ticket out of not only homelessness, but also out of the difficult life that he has lived since dropping out.
Earn lives with Van, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child. The relationship dynamic between the two is one that is rather unusual for any type of TV show: ex-lovers who have a kid together, who live together and are best friends. Relationships like these are rarely seen on TV; they exist in real life, but not in television–a world where the only kind of relationships are ones like early Ross and Rachel from “Friends;” two goofy white people who end up together through a series of wacky accidents. Earn and Van’s relationship doesn’t have that dynamic. They are real people who have feelings for each other but have a complicated past that makes their future together uncertain.
Through the first two episodes, it is clear that “Atlanta” is going to show the lives of its characters in a more realistic, down to earth fashion, something that recent television comedies have been lacking. Dramas show these types of stories all the time, but the laughter that “Atlanta” brings makes it feel much more real.
One truly hilarious aspect of “Atlanta” is Darius, Alfred’s friend and right hand man. Darius is much like Alan from the Hangover series— a supporting character who is an absolute scene stealer. His spacey stoner personality makes for great comedy when paired with straight men Earn and Alfred.
The combined efforts of Glover and his talented cast will not only get Paperboi’s career off the ground, but also make “Atlanta” a success.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FX