Monday, September 12, 2016

TV Review: FX does it again with 'Atlanta'

Atlanta FX poster
Atlanta (2016) - Created by Donald Glover; Starring Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Keith Stanfield.

By Kenny Howell

Just two episodes in, FX has found another stellar program with Donald Glover's Atlanta.

FX has this novel idea of hiring talented people and letting them make the show they want to make. Crazy, I know. Here Glover (The To Do List) takes the two worlds he is known for, comedy and rap, and merges them into a story of an emerging star on the Atlanta scene.

Glover, who is also known as Childish Gambino, is not the rapper in this scenario. It is his cousin Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) who has a mix tape that is starting to make some noise. Glover's character, Earn, is a down on his luck young man that is looking for something. What that is, or why he has come back to Atlanta after being away at school, we don't totally know yet. But Earn takes the initiative to make his cousin a big star. Unfortunately, things get off to a rocky start.

The idea for the show is not totally original. Young men that come back home to find themselves has been a trope in independent films for years. But Atlanta is so distinctly Glover's voice, drastically different from his previous work on Community, that it works so well. It doesn't try too hard for laughs, it just lets them come when its needed, and it relies on Earn's story to carry it through. It is one of the more promising comedy series to premiere on FX for quite some time, probably since Louie, with which it tonally shares some space, but it definitely is a work all its own.

The first two episodes of Atlanta are now streaming on FX Now. New episodes air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST.

Rating: ****

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