The problem with modern television, despite its emergence as one of the best mediums today, is the lack of diversity in terms of content and characters. There is definitely an imbalance in the representation of minority groups as well, with just a handful of shows like Black-ish and Master of none making their way past cancellation. This however, only dilutes the overall spectrum that television can offer, and Atlanta proves exactly why we need more stories from the lesser heard voices in the country.

Running to the “Paper Boi”

Atlanta is written and created by Donald Glover, the highly talented actor who became a fan favorite because of his work on Community.

Since his departure from the series, he has worked on a few music albums of his own, but Atlanta marks his return to what appears to be his favorite medium. The show is strengthened by the fact that Glover has influenced nearly every aspect of its overall production, which is why it appears fully cohesive right from the pilot.

Set in Glover’s home city – Atlanta, the series follows the life of Earnest “Earn” Marks, played by Donald Glover, a talented but luckless credit card salesman with a history of talent management in the music industry. Despite being a Princeton graduate and possessing an acute sense of self-awareness, Marks leads a less-than-glamorous life with the mother of his child Vanessa, played by Zazie Beetz.

The dysfunctional state of their relationship and his somber career pushes Marks to look for opportunities to make the most of his god-given skills. When he finds out that his cousin Alfred Miles has become a minor Hip-Hop celebrity called “Paper Boi," Marks reaches out to him and tries to convince him to let him be his manager.

The ensuing adventures of Mark, Miles and his go-to-man Darius, played by Keith Stanfield forms the baseline of this series.

The Hip-Hop game

Atlanta does many things remarkably well in order to make a giant mark on its viewers during the course of its double-premiere on FX. The series ties itself down to a singular city, and focuses on a set section of young black artists looking to make their way into the Hip-Hop game.

Nearly all scenes and encounters involve commentary on African-Americans and their relationship with their immediate world, and it is told with honest brutality and stunning insight. Donald Glover clearly draws from his own pool of memories and opinions in order to add a sense of tension and a hint of surrealism to the show, thereby upping its overall quality tenfold.

The themes discussed during the premiere are not only hilarious and thought-provoking, but are also extremely relevant in today’s society. Paper Boi’s encounter with a few children and their guardian after a recent shooting, and Marks time in prison waiting to be processed, particularly stand out due to the brilliant amalgam of absurdity and reality.

It is clear that Glover has created a world that he fully understands, purely because it is his own, and he gets the viewers comfortable in this space in no time as well.

Atlanta left me wanting for more as soon as I was done with the first two episodes, and no other pilot has done that to me this year so far. The acting was of the top-shelf quality, with Glover himself delivering a career-best performance. His pain and confusion as a member of society oozes out of the screen in a thoroughly tangible way, and he is ably supported by the rest of the cast as well. Even the cinematography and music are perfectly aligned to the overall vibe of the show. I can’t wait to see what happens to Paper Boi and Marks’ careers, and listening to the hazy but grounded wisdom of their faithful mate Darius is a major bonus.

I’m giving Atlanta an excellent 11 out of 12 bananas for the brilliant premiere. If the show maintains this quality across the season, it may just earn the whole dozen.

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