Donald Glover has taken a break from Childish Gambino. He reacquaints us with his creative prowess using a different outlet, television.
We enter season one of what is titled as Atlanta. The home of Childish Gambino, who is the author, producer and main actor in this television series.
The story revolves around Earnest who is played by Donald Glover, who finds out his cousin (Brian Tyree Henry) is a big time local rapper, Paperboi. Earn vows to become his music manager. Upon discovery that his cousin Alfred is actually Atlanta's hottest emerging artist (Paperboi), Earn makes it his business to position himself to become Paperboi's manager. Earn, Paperboi and his good friend Darius embark on a topsy turvy adventure that begins with a bang. As the first episode details a shooting involving the main cast, and how these events quickly lead to setbacks at one point and growth in another.
Setbacks aren't the main focus on the show thankfully. The episodes are filled with personal character development involving happiness, excitement and trepidation for each of Atlanta's stars through out the first season. I would like to mention that not much ground is covered in the first season of Atlanta, as far as progress is concerned on a climactic story level. The show lacks in time and progress, it makes up for in episodically constant supplying us with character bonds, interaction and growth. At no point did I feel disconnected from the show or lost.
What I liked most about Atlanta is that you truly never know where the show is going to take you. Through out the season you've seen Earn's relationship with Van(essa) go through its ups and downs. We got a glimpse of what it's like in both of their lives, from their own perspectives. Also, we got to see how much their lives are similar and yet so different at the same time, especially in regards to job choice and lifestyle. We also witnessed peer pressure from those they chose to surround themselves with.
I feel the key for the first season was building chemistry amongst the cast. The show seems to take a daily approach as opposed to a weekly approach like most television series. Maybe that's to prolong the story, but when I think of the episodes I feel that they're not exactly important to the story as they should be. A part of me feels this whole season was a filler.
For instance, the last episode was locating how Earn lost his jacket, which after 10 mins or so we discovered it was left in an Uber from the night before. And of course in Donald Glover-like fashion, something weird happens where the Uber driver is a big drug dealer whom was a part of a sting operation. I do think this was an important part of the episode though. The real importance of his mission to locate this jacket is because this was a representation of him holding on to all he has. Throughout the whole season we had no clue how bad Earn had it.
During the last episode, we see Earn receive a payment from his cousin, Paperboi, for his manager role. Although he needed this money badly for himself, he gave the money straight to Van to ensure her and his daughter's bills were paid. At the very end of the episode we got to see what Earn's situation really was like. He finally went home, but a home it was not. He lived in a storage garage. I think that's a shameful secret no one knows but him.
My problem with the show is that it's a bit sad all the time. I get it, he's homeless with nothing working in his favor thus far. But we could use more laughter and happiness throughout some of the episodes. It has to be an emotional balance for the viewers, it enhances the story a little more when each scene isn't predictable. Second issue with the series is, where is it going? In season one there was no real climatic ending or cliff hangers. I feel the usage of such events would really propel the story, so maybe Atlanta needs to create some villains besides bills being due? Maybe I give this series the edge because I genuinely like Donald Glover as a human being through his portrayal as Childish Gambino, but I need to see more in season two.