It can be tough to categorise ‘Atlanta’. The comedy isn’t always outwardly laughable and the drama is often tongue in cheek, but whatever the genre, fans of Donald Glover (A.K.A Childish Gambino) will surely be captivated by this comedy-drama set against the backdrop of the rapping culture in ‘Atlanta’.
Having dropped out of Princeton University, the ironically named Earn (Glover) finds himself broke and homeless. With his parents unwilling to offer any further financial support, and a rocky relationship with the mother of his child, Vanessa (Zazie Beets), things are looking bleak for Earn until he discovers his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) is beginning to make a name for himself in the Atlanta rap scene, under the guise ‘Paper Boi’. Eager to make a better life for himself and for his young daughter Lotti, Earn attempts to ingratiate himself back into the life of his cousin and become his manager.
Presenting believable scenarios, well-rounded characters and some relatable issues, ‘Atlanta’ seems designed to make you think, the laughs often coming as a bi-product. That isn’t to say the comedy hasn’t been well constructed. Earn’s dry and cynical responses in conversations always brings a smile, as does Alfred’s right-hand man Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) and the use of a black Justin Bieber. Similarly, the hilariously satirical ‘Black America Network’ (B.A.N), which looks at rights for people of all ethnicities, age and gender/sexual orientation, delivers some great relief from the heartfelt drama.
Along with his ability to create different styles of music, Glover also wrote, directed and helped produce this show, developed from his own personal experiences in the industry and probably why ‘Atlanta’ seems adept at drawing in the viewer in such a realistic way. With shootings, police brutality, mental health, racial rights, transphobia, drug use, a great soundtrack and enough comedy to leave you smiling, Atlanta is definitely one to watch.