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Donald Glover’s ‘Atlanta,’ the best show on television, is back

By Cole Allen, May 10, 2022

The award-winning TV show “Atlanta” is back on air with its third season after a nearly four years hiatus. Created by artist, musician, writer and director, Donald Glover, the show illustrates the life of a college dropout, Earnest “Earn” Marks, played by Glover, who is lost in a world post Princeton, with no foreseeable career path. Earn sees the opportunity to help manage his cousin, Alfred — otherwise known as Paper Boi — played by Brian Tyree Henry, an up-and-coming rapper trying to break out of the local Atlanta rap scene.

The show first premiered in 2016, catching the fandom by storm with its surreal storyline mixed with dry, but intelligently written humor, sweeping up awards at the Emmys and Golden Globes. In the show’s first season, Glover won an Emmy for best actor with his performance, the writers were awarded for the best comedy show from the Writers Guild and at the Golden Globes the show won best Musical or Comedy show on Television.

“Atlanta” is a show built for success, with its story centered around hip-hop and its producer being one of the most notable hip-hop figures of the 2010s. It was a perfect storm for “Atlanta,” because in 2017 rap became the biggest genre in all of music, being the most streamed on music platforms. Another thing that makes the show special is its unique style of filming. Using the ARRI Amira camera, the quality of shots looks almost foggy, as if you were dreaming the story.

Justin Oo | The Poly Post

Part of the magic this show produces is its eerie, almost surreal feeling while watching events unfold within the story. “Atlanta” is special in the fact that you can be watching an episode of something that would happen in real life for a rapper but ends up evolving into something absurd. For example, Paper Boi and his team go out to a club to make an appearance for a fee. However, the promoter who promised to pay them, seems to be stiffing them of their agreed upon pay.

When escalations arise after the inevitable altercation upon payment, ending in a shootout outside of the club, the episode ends with another celebrity, who was inside the club, driving away in his invisible car, hitting three pedestrians on the way out. This absurd comedy is common in “Atlanta,” where you never know what can happen when watching and that is part of the genius of it.

With writing so unpredictable, fans of the show were thrilled for the new season to air, wondering what would happen next for the crew.

In past seasons, Paper Boi and Earn, alongside supporting cast like Darius, played by LaKeith Stanfield, and others, were set in the city of Atlanta, and on occasion traveling out for shows and other events. In the newest season, the crew finds themselves in Europe on a Paper Boi tour, the show detailing their travels and conflicts, the life of an artist.

Another thing that makes “Atlanta” so great and different from other shows, is it dedicates specific episodes to certain characters within the story. This provides a chance for a deeper dive within the character’s mind and behavior within everyday life and put the extreme in these outrageous scenarios. A fan favorite of this type of episode is the “Teddy Perkins” episode from season two. This is where Darius, a man who acts as the balance to the group, who is always calm and so in his own world where he is almost disconnected from the present, goes to pick up a free rainbow-colored piano from someone he found online.

When arriving at the location, we see it is an extravagant mansion, occupied by only one man, Teddy Perkins. A shut-in that from introduction oozes tension and suspense, until later on the audience finds out he is keeping his own brother in captivity in his basement. This episode is so thrilling it has been deemed by many to be one of the best television episodes of all time.

This season sees the same type of episodes, but instead of following a specific character and making it about them alone, this season tells stories about entirely separate tales. The episodes are so well written and filmed beautifully, they go back to that surreal type feeling, as if you are dreaming the sequence, each episode feeling like a movie.

“Atlanta” season three airs every Thursday at 9 p.m. and releases on Hulu at midnight Friday for streaming.

Feature image by Justin Oo. 

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