Survival in Atlanta

When I first watched Atlanta in its entirety, I didn’t get it. I thought it was a good show but I didn’t see the hype that everyone who was watching it was giving it. Yes, it’s different, yes, it’s well produced, but what’s it really about? The show is not exciting, it’s not really gut-busting hilarious, and it’s not like the show has done anything new. So naturally, I looked to the writing and characters. And after my second time watching it I thought “OK, there’s something here,” and on my third time watching it I thought “OK, this show is really¬†good,” and I’d like to dig into that a little more. Let’s explore why Atlanta is so great.

I think there’s a bias for those who watched the series. I don’t know anyone who watched Atlanta without first being some kind of Donald Glover fan. Actually, when friends were talking about Donald Glover, they weren’t talking about Donald Glover, the writer. They were talking about Childish Gambino. So naturally, there’s some bias when fans watched the show. For a lot of these fans, Glover can really do no wrong. In fact, I’m sure Glover could have produced a show that wasn’t so great as Atlanta, and fans would still find a reason to love it. “Yo Childish Gambino killed it, this show is lit,” is how I’d imagine that conversation would go. But no, this isn’t Childish Gambino’s work. This is the work of the genius writer – Donald Glover.

So what is this show? It’s kind of a comedy, it’s closer to a drama. This show documents the human condition. Atlanta is about survival. And not survival like how Rick survived in Atlanta, in the first and best season of The Walking Dead. Rather this series is about people trying to get by as they play it by ear. Every episode, our gang of Earn, Al, Darius, and Van are just trying to survive. And every person they meet is trying to do the same. From Justin Bieber, to the guy trying to run a social media page, to Van’s “WAG” friend, and even the black kid claiming he’s a 35 year old white man (oh lawd) – they’re all trying their best to survive in their own ways. In their attempts at surviving, it is clear that there is no singular formula to survive. Whether you work hard or not, sometimes it just comes to good luck or working smarter. Sometimes it’s about getting gritty and cutting corners, such as doing business with a strange group of men who live in the woods, that go by the name of Migos.

This show explores the human condition. What a person will do when backed into a corner with no hope. This show explores just that. Even good people, will sometimes have to cut corners in order to survive. Maybe they have to relieve their burdens with drugs, marry into a loveless marriage, or live in a storage space. When all looks bleak, you just have to survive. But living doesn’t really start till after survival has been achieved. There’s always something to work and look forward to. Atlanta is a great watch, which gets better with every re-watch, and with a clean slate of not knowing who Donald Glover is, Atlanta may even be a better viewing experience.

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