By: Peter Kolb – Opinions Editor
“Atlanta” had everything needed to create one of the most anticipated premieres of the year. It’s a show about hip-hop, which, I get isn’t crazy, but when you compare the size of the modern hip-hop community to the scarce number of shows for said community to watch, it’s a big difference.
It’s on FX, which, again, I get it: most hot new shows are on Netflix now. So, if you can manage to create a really solid, quality show on cable television nowadays, you won’t have a whole lot of competition. Cable TV has become a wasteland, where B-list comedians get to try their hand at one week of incredibly mediocre television.
For every one “Breaking Bad,” there’s about twenty “Bordertown” or something. Although of course there is the most important reason why “Atlanta” shined through the immense pile of absolute garbage one-pilot-season-then-cancel TV: Donald Glover.
The man Donald Glover is truly beating everyone at life right now. The man is 32 years old. He got his start writing for “30 Rock” (this is not only good for “30 Rock” and TV, but also good for human beings as a whole since this led way to a Tina Fey rap verse on his debut mixtape “ROYALTY”) when he was 22. He became a member of the comedy group Derek Comedy, which not only put out a decently funny movie in “Mystery Team,” but also was way ahead of its time, Youtube-comedy wise.
He had a stand-up special air on Comedy Central in 2010 which was, once again, decently funny. He starred as one of the funniest characters I’ve seen on TV in also one of the funniest shows I’ve seen on TV, Community. He has also released seven mixtapes, two EP’s, and two albums.
One of these projects being very good, two being good, and the rest being pretty forgettable or bad. He now has his own TV show where he runs as the executive producer, writer, and lead actor, not to mention countless acting roles, comedy specials, and other various acts. The man is a work-horse.
I don’t think Donald Glover put school papers off until the last night. I think Donald Glover would skip writing the paper because it’s boring and instead write a play, paint a mural, and create a whole new art form to answer whatever he was supposed to answer in the paper.
Even still. The fact that “Atlanta” set itself apart from the rest of cable TV didn’t really set itself apart from the rest of cable TV. So many shows trick you into thinking they could be halfway watchable, only to die a week later (R.I.P. John Mulaney being funny). What does set “Atlanta” apart from the rest of cable TV is the fact that it followed through. It followed through with everything.
The show premiered with a double feature of episodes one and two, running twenty minutes each. It follows Earnest Marks (Donald Glover), a near homeless man with a past muddled in some Princeton scandal that no one seems to know about, looking for the next opportunity to jump at. He finds it in his cousin Alfred Miles, better known as the rapper “Paperboy.”
Paperboy has started to garner a small amount of attention in fictional Atlanta, and Earnest wants in. The story is interesting, the jokes are hilarious, and the acting is perfectly compelling. But the best part of “Atlanta” isn’t the story, the jokes, or the acting it’s how undeniably genuine this show is.
Too often shows are forced to sacrifice authenticity for marketability. However, Glover demanded that if he does this show, he does it right. It pays off. Backed by a team of all black writers, writing about mostly black characters, “Atlanta” finally gives what seems to be a genuine look into a life most of us would never get the chance to see otherwise.
“Atlanta” allows Donald Glover to address numerous nuances of the artist-consumer relationship, while still delivering an intriguing story pushed along by quality laughs. The first two episodes have been uploaded to FX’s Youtube channel. Once you’re caught up, watch “Atlanta” on Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST.
Photo Courtesy of complex.com