I’m going to start by saying that I haven’t ever seen anything quite like this in the realm of television shows. This is a very, very unique series. It shifts tone at its own will. It begins as a very real and mature take on life with a black identity. Then it suddenly brings in a touch of magical realism. It then goes on to do satire for an entire episode. And becomes a mini-horror film in another. It also creates metaphors out of real-world elements and times them in an almost absurd manner. The weirdest part is how the characters’ reactions are so very real (and mirror ours) in these absurd and outlandish situations, lending a “truth is stranger than fiction” vibe to the whole experience. This tonal imbalance is only one of the intriguing aspects of Atlanta.

The show has packed in a spectrum of themes that it explores to full effect. Mental health, sexuality, racism, fame, social media, we get to hear about everything in a steady manner, with no hyper-commentary or megaphone-wielding. At times they are presented in an ironical tone, while there are also times where criticism is delivered straight-up. Donald Glover seems to have been a great observer, and the way in which he uses the nuances of small-town life for melancholic social-commentary and comedic situations stands as proof for that. You never know what’s up ahead in the story, and the show uses that uncertainty to experiment with a lot of things, right from the narrative, to even the cinematography. The character dynamics unfold with an affecting energy, and it doesn’t take time to get invested in their journeys. Again, this is distinct content, and deserves a lot more attention, provided you’re going to think about it.

This is also an example of how an artist can grow up with time. From the guy who cracked unironic misogynist jokes and normalised racist comments in his standup routines, to the writer who identifies and calls out white men using “nigga” in the wrong context, Glover has surely come a long way. He is redeeming himself through his art, which will make for another arguable debate, but for now we have this brilliant show to talk about.


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