Skip to main content

william-green
15th November 2016

Review: Atlanta

In a world devoid of original sitcom concepts, Donald Glover’s Atlanta provides a topical comedy with more heart and creativity than anything currently on TV
Categories:
TLDR

Over the last decade it is safe to say that Donald Glover has conquered just about every medium known to man. He is a Grammy award nominated artist under the name Childish Gambino, stand-up comedian, writer for Emmy winning 30 Rock, star of cult favourite Community, and will portray the beloved Lando Calrissian in the untitled Hans Solo Star Wars movie. Glover’s latest project, FX’s Atlanta — in which he stars, writes, produces and directs — could just be his best yet.

Atlanta follows Earn Marks (Glover) an essentially homeless but smart man supported by the mother of his daughter Van (portrayed excellently by Zazie Beetz). Instead of gaining fixed employment, he chooses to look at the bigger picture, attempting to manage his cousin Alfred/Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), a successful up-and-coming rapper monikered with the label of a thug.

For those expecting a laugh-out-loud sitcom though, think again. Atlanta is so much more than that. It is a rare insight into the hardships found in places such as Atlanta and just how dangerous they can be, but also how much creativity thrives in these environments. It tackles real-world issues that are crying out to be addressed such as police brutality, gun control, mental illness and the treatment of the transgender community. The comedic elements are also superbly worked in to counterbalance the heavier themes. It does not seem forced in any way, creeping throughout the series at unexpected times and places, only adding to the eccentric charm of the show.

The show even transcends the overstated comedy-drama mix that currently plagues modern TV. “Twin Peaks for rappers” is the mantra Glover has used to describe his stylistic take on the Atlanta rap scene, and it could not be any truer. He, along with director Hiro Murai, dabbles in noir, surrealism and even sketch comedy — look out for the particularly distinctive take on commercialism in episode 7 — throughout the series. It is this amalgamation of juxtaposing styles that makes each episode feel fresh and more so like its own independent and creative project, although a little more direction as to what exactly Glover wants his show to be could be the final piece in this most unique puzzle.

Ultimately, Glover and his team still manage to find warmth and heart within these characters, despite these poignant messages and grim undertones, making for what can be described as a thought provoking but ultimately gratifying comedy experience that the world needs more than ever right now.

4/5


More Coverage

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget Review – An action packed adventure from Aardman Animations | MAF 2023

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget previewed at Manchester’s Animation Festival for a special Gala screening alongside an exclusive Q&A with Aardman studio

Thanksgiving review: A sumptuous seasonal slasher

Director Eli Roth serves a fresh take on holiday horror in this long gestated slasher which weaves consumerism and comedy into the mix

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes review – Dystopia as a hard-hitting critique of the modern world

It isn’t what’s on the big screen which makes the most powerful impression; it’s the film’s grim use of dystopia and its trivialisation of political violence

Love Actually’s 20th anniversary: A classic film still capturing the world’s hearts

Twenty years from its initial release and Hugh Grant’s sneaky feeling still stands as Love Actually is still all around