There’s a lot of hype surrounding the FX comedy, Atlanta. It’s hard to not be in awe of the show’s creator, Donald Glover. Glover, who grew up in Atlanta, played nerdy athlete Troy Barnes for five seasons on Community and was the first black staff writer on the award-winning NBC series 30 Rock. The man is a savant. Take a look at his stand-up, listen to his music, or read his interviews, and you’ll quickly realize you are watching someone do the one thing they were always meant to do.
On paper, Atlanta sounds like any other struggling musician/rags-to-riches story: two cousins try to navigate their way through the Atlanta rap scene. Seconds into the first (of many) promos, it’s clear there’s more going on here in terms of style, character analysis, and cinematography. Atlanta isn’t trying to be a steamy musical soap opera (Nashville) or a string of music videos in disguise (looking at you, Empire). In fact, Atlanta doesn’t look like it’s trying to be anything. Yes, it’s a contemplation of what it’s like to be young and black in the current landscape. But because Glover is taking the lead here (as creator, producer, writer, and head actor), we know it will be so much more.
In the same vein as Louie and Master of None, Glover’s progression from actor/comedian to TV series creator is a seamless one. Given his background in comedy writing and his general outlook on life, Atlanta looks to be equal parts magical-realism, experimental, and satirical. During a recent panel Glover commented that the thesis with Atlanta was to “show people what it’s like to be black, and you can’t write that down. You have to feel it.”
The introspective aspect of the show will take on a very specific tone; one that Atlanta director Hiro Murai is embracing whole-heartedly:
“A lot of the show is about the grey areas, where you’re not sure if you’re supposed to laugh… We’re creating a tone where you are allowed to laugh at the hard jokes.”
Whatever those hard jokes may be, we cannot wait to see this progression in Glover’s career. Recently he was heard saying, “The absurdity of the real world is interesting.” Glover also noted that he realizes not everyone is going to get it: “TV shows are like novels now,” he mused. “You have to invest in them.”
Then, the kicker: “I just wanted to make Twin Peaks with rappers.”