So here i am again, another month another article about a TV show (last month I wrote about Bojack Horseman). I normally like to use this monthly space to write about a different aspect of pop culture each month but lately, I have been watching so many good TV shows that I can’t help but write about them, for example; I just finished re-watching the excellent season two of Mr Robot and if it wasn’t enough this year also gave us The people Vs OJ Simpson, Luke Cage and Better things just to name a few. But the show I will write about this time is the one with a very particular take on a theme that I am personally very interested in, the Atlanta hip-hop scene — and it is simply titled Atlanta.
Atlanta revolves around two cousins on their way up through the Atlanta rap scene with completely opposing views on art and commerce. Donald Glover plays "Earnest ‘Earn’ Marks", a loner who left Atlanta to further his dreams of success, only to return beneath the dark cloud of supposed failure; he is now working an unglamorous job and barely getting by. When his cousin Alfred becomes Atlanta’s hot rapper, Earn sees an opportunity to manage Alfred’s career. The show also follows his troubled relationship with Van (played by Zazie Beetz) — with whom he shares a daughter. Brian Tyree Henry plays “Alfred Miles (Paperboi),” Atlanta’s hot of the moment rapper who plans to capitalize on the sudden fame as quickly as possible. To complete the cast, Lakeith Lee Stanfield plays “Darius,” Alfred's oddly talented and hilarious right-hand man and musical collaborator. Hiro Murai directed multiple episodes of the first season, he is an accomplished music video director, including the videos for Glover’s alter ego rapper Childish Gambino, Chet Faker and Earl Sweatshirt. Murai makes his presence known expertly in Atlanta, the moments of amazing visual storytelling are a clear indicator as to Glover’s intent as producer when he contracted him to direct most of the ten episodes. Murai went on hiatus on his music video career and took a chance making his first standard narrative work, and it paid off, he has given the city of Atlanta a look and feel that immediately set the show Atlanta apart from any other current show on air at the moment.
What I particularly love about this show is that captures some really interesting social, economical and kinda down-right depressing ideologies through the use of funny and witty dialogs. Ernest and Paperboi are highly likable and interesting dudes. And unlike conventional music based shows (I am looking at you Empire and Nashville) the show has this real focus on characters with this very grounded and surreal style to it. From the pilot on, you really get this unique feel and vibe of the show, it's something unconventional and absolutely beautiful to watch.The cinematography is very well done, every shot feels unique and inspiring, the soundtrack on the show is also wonderful and showcases talents that a lot of people wouldn't normally hear on TV. But in my humble opinion the highlight of the show is Darius, the stoned supporting character played by Keith Stanfield, he is a free spirit guy, the kind of person who lives on his own world and he always has the most hilarious moments on the show. I've always been a Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) fan so I was looking forward to it regardless, but the show surpassed all my expectations. Not only this is a very real take on things like grinding in the music industry and trying to get a better and more comfortable lifestyle but it also touches sensible themes like racism, violence and how the lack of money can poisoning relationships.
All in all, Atlanta is a very well thought out. The cinematography is very well done, every shot feels unique and inspiring, the soundtrack is great and the characters are all amazing in their own way incorporating a perfect balance of humor and drama. Atlanta is a vivid and playful dream alluding to a grotesque reality. Donald Glover, Hiro Murai and the rest of the cast and crew have absolutely nailed this show. Atlanta is off to a great start and I can't wait to see what else is in store.