Thursday, September 08, 2016


I just watched the first two episodes of the new FX half-hour Atlanta, created and produced by its star Donald Glover.  He's a stand-up comedian and a rapper, but I know him best for his role of Troy Barnes in my favorite sitcom of the last decade, Community.

Atlanta is a bit more dramatic than that series, and Glover's character, Earn Marks, is more mature, and also more troubled.  (The show is also pretty weird, but so was Community, though in a different way.) Earn left Princeton three years ago--for reasons not divulged--to return to his hometown of Atlanta, but doesn't seem sure what he's doing there.  He's barely earning any money, and doesn't have a regular place to live--we see him at his girlfriend's place, where the baby girl they made also resides.  When he visits his parents, they want nothing to do with him, figuring he just wants money.

But Earn has a plan. He goes to his cousin, a local rapper known as Paper Boi (Bryan Tyree Henry), and offers to manage him and get his career off the ground. Paper Boi has his doubts, but Earn sets his mind to it and, with the help of payola, gets the rapper's single played on a local station.  While it's on the radio, the two get into an altercation outside a nightclub and Paper Boi (I think it was Paper Boi) shoots someone.

That's the first episode.  The second has them at the police station.  Paper Boi gets out quickly because he's been in the system before, but Earn spends the whole episode sitting around, along with other arrestees, waiting to be processed.  Paper goes about his business outside--along with his friend Darius (Keith Stanfield), who's a bit out there--but notices things are different.  Word has spread about the shooting and Paper Boi is getting the sort of notoriety that can help a rapper, but he doesn't like the experience.

The show isn't bad, but is it good enough to make regular rotation?  The comedy is done in a mostly deadpan style, and, while it has some decent moments, is rarely laugh-out-loud funny.  It also takes its time with the plot.  I don't know if I'll be in it for the long haul, but I've liked Glover enough in the past to stick around for a while to see where it goes.

PS  It's playing at the same time as one of my favorite shows, Halt And Catch Fire, so I guess I'll catch the rerun.


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