O-Money Reviews: Atlanta

Image by mohamed_hassan from Pixabay


Owen Starnes, Staff Writer

Atlanta is a TV show created by Donald Glover. The show stars Donald Glover as Earnest Marks, Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles (aka Paper Boi), LaKeith Stanfield as Darius, and Zazie Beetz as Vanessa Kiefer. Atlanta mostly follows the story of Earnest (or “Earn”) managing his cousin Alfred’s rap career and his relationship with the mother of his daughter Vanessa (or “Van”). Darius, Earn and Alfred’s friend, is often less of the main focus in the series, although episodes like “Teddy Perkins” and “It Was All a Dream” (the show’s finale) feature Darius as the main focus and rely heavily on him. The entire show does a great job of portraying the lives of each of the four main characters with great detail, making each one of them feel significant and complex.

After watching Atlanta, I was left with a lot of questions. I wondered what the relevance of the anthology episodes was, I wondered if Van and Earn ended up together in the long run, and I wondered if Darius saw Judge Judy as normal or thick on the TV in the season finale. Initially, I was a little angry that I didn’t know all the answers, but as I sat with it for a while, I realized that that’s the point and a big part of the show’s appeal. The show can mess with the viewer’s perception, often leaving them confused and disoriented. The viewer is taken on a bizarre trip, especially in episodes like “New Jazz,” where Alfred walks the streets of Amsterdam after eating a hallucinogenic “Nepalese space cake”, and encounters Liam Neeson at a secret underground bar, and it’s very trippy. But what’s the significance? The significance is the things that are revealed to Alfred during his trip, like insecurity on whether or not he owns the masters of his songs. Many episodes play out like this: the viewer doesn’t initially get the relevance but understands it later once other things are revealed.

Atlanta is also full of references and cameos that make it a really interesting watch. I’m very into music, so I immediately recognized the song Darius plays in the car with Earn in season 2 episode 1 (“Hot Head” by Death Grips), Earl Sweatshirt’s voice of deceased fictional rapper Blue Blood in season 4 episode 1, and alternative R&B musician Jai Paul’s cameo in season 3 episode 3. It’s very cool to see that a show this popular references some pretty niche musicians. Also, the hidden title of the show at the beginning of every episode is pretty cool. That’s one of the few times I’ve paused a show.

Overall, Atlanta is an extremely well-made show that combines aspects of dark comedy and surrealism to tell a compelling story. I watched it on Hulu, but you can watch it on Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, or Disney Plus (the first three seasons if I’m not mistaken). Watch this show!