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Should You Watch Donald Glover’s ‘Atlanta?’ Here’s Our Take!

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VOXers got together last weekend to watch the first two episodes of the new show, “Atlanta.” Here’s a few of their reactions. Send your thoughts to media@voxatl.org!



By Alexanderia Thomas, 16, Mount Pisgah Christian School  

Donald Glover’s (aka Childish Gambino) new show, “Atlanta,” premiered on FX on Sept. 6, after a long awaited three years.  The show is set in the city of Atlanta, and stars Glover as Earn Marks, who is just a young man trying to manage a big one. This man, Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (played by Brian Tyree Henry), is an up-and-coming rapper, trying to find his place in the music business. The show covers a variety of social issues, while simultaneously managing to be realistic as well as comical.

In “Atlanta’s” premiere, the comedy begins with an altercation between Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles, and the man who broke his driver-side car mirror. The show then rewinds to the beginning of that same day in Earn Mark’s life. The plot line and the scripting of this show is very natural, and true to the Atlanta lifestyle. The characters are well cast, with dialogue that accurately portrays their feelings, while not being too exaggerated. This show is entertaining with a capital E. The comedy is so unforced and natural, it feels as if you are laughing at things that happen to you every day in your own life.

“Atlanta” covers a variety of social issues, such as transphobia, white people and their use of the N-word, young children glamorizing the gangster rapper lifestyle, and mental illness in the black community, all without being uncomfortably uncomfortable and still entertaining.  The show covers all of the aspects that you would wish for in an entertaining TV series: comedy, the identification of social issues and relatable situations. I will definitely be tuning into “Atlanta” every Tuesday at 10 p.m. on FX.

By Maya Martin, 16, W.D. Mohammed High School

By intertwining social commentary and humor that will catch you off guard, “Atlanta” is not your typical TV show. I was impressed by the nonlinear storyline, which began and ended the first episode at the height of the action, and I look forward to the next episode to learn the mystery behind the dog (who shows up at both these times), an element that cannot be missed. In between, however, rude jokes were inserted in awkward places that made me cringe and laugh out loud at the same time. While these attempts at humor directed me to the show’s social commentary on a range of current issues, they often distracted from the main storyline. I found the characters in these scenes exaggerated, including the policeman and a mother both overjoyed at the chance for a selfie with emerging Atlanta rapper Paper Boi. 

While “Atlanta” faces some obstacles in producing consistent quality writing and sticking to the plot, the show succeeds in addressing current social issues. During the show’s premiere episodes, the comedy — without resorting to sarcasm — covers racism, homophobia, transphobia, the effects of rap music, mental illness and even police brutality. The show pulls this off by putting us into the shoes of the main character, Earn Marks, played by Donald Glover, making the audience feel like part of the scene.

I have mixed opinions, but I look forward to seeing the rest of the series and hope to see Glover experiment with different storytelling techniques.  

By Richa Sehgal, 15, Northview High School

“Atlanta” is entertaining as well as intriguing. It’s authentic and well-written, touching on many social issues and being humorous, but almost as if the humor was written in at the wrong times. I was amazed to see how many social issues were covered in just two episodes, such as violence, racial tensions, the ignorance of mental illness, and transphobia/homophobia. The show balances humor and sadness, and makes the viewer feel as though they are actually in the same situation as the characters.

The actors in this show really bring it to life, bringing an authenticity and accuracy that matches the city of Atlanta. Donald Glover’s portrayal of Earnest Marks is well-played — his awkwardness and neutral attitude in many situations is relatable to the viewer and brings yet another side of humor to the show.  I appreciate how it sheds light on important social issues here in Atlanta while still being humorous, so that the viewer is left with a light feeling instead of a heavy, sad one. I would watch this show again, and other Atlanta-area teens should watch it, too.

By Adam “A.J” Stuckey, 17, McEachern High School

Donald Glover’s new FX series “Atlanta” is extremely accurate to the black community, from the show’s mannerisms, to the slang that makes it feel like, well … Atlanta, in a nutshell. The way Glover is able to put the audience in the shoes of his character (most notably in a scene featuring a transexual man and his former boyfriend who didn’t know he was actually homosexual) gives viewers a vibe of uncomfortability with a great mix of comedy.  The show provides moments of deep, surreal and even realistic scenes that people may not see or understand at a first glance. The series also presents a way of life that people outside of Atlanta (or Georgia in general), wouldn’t understand. For example, the self-glamorization of rappers that has plagued our youth is tackled in a subtle way and has a nice, natural feel.

Glover’s portrayal of Earn doesn’t feel typical/stereotypical or bland. Glover gives Earn realistic appeal as he deals with life with his on again/off again baby momma, who’re just trying to make it in this crazy world that they live in and as Earn strives for a better future for his kid. Earn’s environment forces him to act in ways necessary to survive, and the people he meets all have a story, no matter how balls-off-the-walls it may be. Earn is always in the wrong place at the wrong time (most notably in the jail scene where he is confronted with homophobic inmates who are harping down on a guy who doesn’t realize he’s gay and continuously acts defensive toward Glover’s character, who doesn’t want to get involved but keeps getting dragged back in it). Earn is determined to get himself out of the situation by any means necessary, consistent with the ‘hood mentality that you need to get out of this hell, whatever it takes. “Atlanta’s” humor is (so far) a beautiful mix of dark, twisted, emotional and deep that gives the show a natural and organic feel.     

By Hannah Martin, 16, North Atlanta High School

“Atlanta” is an interesting show. It brings viewers into the life of a black man trying to make it out of poverty. It starts in a very stereotypical gangsta bit of foreshadowing. It feels authentic, with its camera work letting us sorta feel like a fly on the wall. The show covers a broad array of controversial problems, mixing dark comedy and issues, including transphobia, homophobia, police brutality and overlooked mental illness in the black community. It’s a show I’ll definitely get into.


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