Donald Glover’s ‘Atlanta’ – Breakthrough and Binge-Worthy Storytelling

Donald Glover’s FX series ‘Atlanta’ has all the elements of a hit – and a classic that ushers in a new sensibility.

There are must-see TV shows, and must-talk-about TV shows, and FX’s Atlanta, which is loosely about two cousins trying to break into the music scene, is one of the rare series that is both.  It’s that good – and that fresh. You want to tell someone about it. Hey, we told you about it months ago when it was on our list of  fall’s best. We called it a breakthrough in storytelling – and now we’re even more convinced of it. Sprung from the mind of actor Donald Glover, the show’s unique voice, inventive take on life, and sharp, satirical comedy earned a season 2 renewal after just its second week. Recently, the New York Times called it “one of the best cast and most brightly acted shows of any kind on TV.” If you haven’t checked in yet, the entire season – all 10 episodes- are stacked On Demand and ready to be watched and savored.  Here’s what you need to know about the series:

Rather than write the show with a traditional structure, Glover went a more experimental route because “the thesis with the show was kind of to show people how it felt to be black, and you can’t really write that down. You kind of have to feel it. So the tonal aspect was really important to me.”

The city of Atlanta intentionally informed Glover’s vision of the show. “I grew up there,” he said a few months ago. “Everybody there has a philosophy. So it’s very cool. Like, you’ll get in an Uber, and the driver is telling you about everything, like how you should eat vegan but also how this leader was like a robot and this person like … they have very active dialogue that happens in Atlanta all the time about how things are and how things were and how things should be.”

Actor Brian Tyree Henry plays the rapper Paper Boi. The show’s breakout star, Henry grew up in Atlanta, attended Morehouse College, received his masters degree from Yale School of Drama and appeared in the original cast of The Book of Mormon and Vice Principals, though Atlanta is his biggest role. Like Glover, he says the city influences his work. “I live in New York. If I get in an Uber in New York, it is already understood that you get in the back. You do not talk to that person. They have a GPS. They go. And when I was in Atlanta, anytime I got an Uber, they are, like, ‘No. You sit in the front. Sit in the front with me.’ I’m, like, ‘Oh, okay.’ Then, like, all right. “Can I put my iPod on?” “Okay.” “What are we listening to?” “Oh, you want Fetty Wap?” “Okay.” And that’s the difference. That could be with a black driver, white driver, Latino driver. It is its own world.”

PS – In case you’re still wondering, Glover purposely said no thanks to being in the finale of the beloved series Community, and he’s okay with that. “ I just like endings,” he explained. “I think, like I think everything should have death clauses in them.”