For the past six years, there’s been one driving force on television representing Atlanta: “The Walking Dead.” And while it’s been an intriguing landscape to present the pending zombie apocalypse on, a new program premiered on FX Tuesday (Sept. 6) that is aiming to portray the city in a whole new light.
Donald Glover is the man behind “Atlanta,” which opened with two back-to-back episodes. And when we say he’s behind the show, we mean he’s the creator and executive producer, with writing and directing credits to boot. Oh, and he’s also the star. That’s a lot of responsibility to take on, but in this new age of television, it’s not unheard of.
Watching Earn (Glover) interact with his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) — better known as Paper Boi — audiences will quickly realize that there hasn’t really been a show like this on TV before. As the drama plays out, the comedic moments seem to organically grow from unexpected places. And, in the world Glover presents, it feels as if that is simply how it is in the Atlanta neighborhood that Earn, Paper Boi and Darius (Keith Stanfield) exist in.
Only two episodes into the season, it feels like FX is continuing down a unique path with its programming slate. “Atlanta” doesn’t have the panache other hip hop themed shows on TV do. There’s no glitz, no soap-y drama and no music tie-ins with the show’s stars. And that’s OK.
This isn’t a show — so far, anyway — about living the dream. If you were expecting “Ballers” or “Empire,” you’re in for a wake-up call. This series is about the struggle, it’s about those moments before the dream becomes a reality. And centering the show on three main characters struggling to rise up from the streets isn’t something commonly seen on primetime TV.
What’s more, it’s a series that tackles street realism in the same breath as it does important societal issues. With a mostly black cast, Glover’s “Atlanta” is exploring issues of race, gender and family … but in a manner that is unique.
Instead of delivering home a message outright, he simply presents an almost fly-on-the-wall perspective of the characters and situations as they happen. The result is a show that touches on important subject matter as it exists … and it’s told in an un-preachy tone.
Glover’s Earn is a far cry from the role that made him famous. And while fans of “Community” may be a bit shell-shocked by his un-Troy-like delivery on “Atlanta,” it’s that shift in performance that not only showcases his range as an actor, but also shines a light on the city and story as a whole.
Earn is our connection to a unique Atlanta experience. If you ask us, that’s a nice change from any walker horde.
“Atlanta” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.