Donald Glover’s new series, Atlanta, has premiered on FX, and it’s a pretty good show. And don’t get me wrong, the world still needs good television, especially in comedy, where shows are disappearing and network sitcoms are all Big Bang Theory.
But when compared to other shows like South Park (even 20 years on), It’s Always Sunny, and You’re the Worst, Glover’s Atlanta is good television in a world of great. Every thing on television apart from the big four – FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC – is working, including Game of Thrones, which has managed to never jump the shark but produce greater and greater work every season; The Americans, another big FX hit which continues to explore the idea of Russian spies in a Cold War America in new ways; and in the world of comedy, shows like You’re The Worst and BoJack Horseman, which continue to deal with the real and devastating effects of depression, and the fallout of having arcs on the subject.
Atlanta gives something new, a look at a world most haven’t seen in the black community of the title city, and explores what it means to be broke, somewhat homeless and trying for anything to make your world better. Glover’s character, Earn Marks, is a man whose baby mama is more successful than he is, who works at a job he hates and isn’t very good at, and lives, at least part of the time, with his parents, who honestly seem like a terrific pair of people. When he discovers his cousin has become a rapper with talent, he tries to become his cousin’s manager and gets his first single played on radio.
The second half of the premiere focuses on Marks and Paper Boi, his rapper cousin, having been arrested after Paper Boi shoots a guy who purposely broke his car mirror. Marks, who was around for the shooting, is arrested and held on weed charges. This is by far the better half, because it gives an inside look into jail, and even though we’ve had things like Oz, The Night Of, and Orange is the New Black, Atlanta gives us a more comedic and lighter look into it, as well as exploring the mental health problem in the country which is controlled by prisons instead of better state-run mental health hospitals, something the United States should absolutely have.
I’m trying to say as much as possible without spoiling anything, because anything Donald Glover works on is absolutely worth your time, from his stand-up to Community to Atlanta. I very much believe that Atlanta will get better because tell me a good show that had it’s best episode in its pilot. Many shows top ten episodes don’t include the pilot, so Atlanta should be fine, especially considering the second episode of the premiere.
Besides, in an era of great television, who doesn’t want more?