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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Donald Glover rises to the top of the television game with ‘Atlanta’

    FX Productions

    Donald Glover seems to do no wrong. Everything that he touches instantly turns to gold. From his early days as a writer on “30 Rock” to his years as Troy Barnes on the NBC comedy “Community” all the way to his music career as acclaimed rapper Childish Gambino, the man seems incapable of producing anything other than high-quality entertainment—whatever form that may take.

    Glover’s new television series, “Atlanta,” which he wears many hats for including show creator, writer and lead actor, gives no exception to this rule.

    The brand new series tells the story of an aspiring rapper and his manager cousin as they try to navigate the cut-throat world of Atlanta hip-hop.. Glover takes the lead role in the series as Earnest “Earn” Marks, a college dropout trying to create a better life for himself and his daughter by helping his cousin Alfred, played by Brian Tyree Henry, reach hip-hop stardom. Alfred’s rap name is “Paper Boi.”

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    With only two episodes having aired so far, the characters do not all seem completely fleshed out yet and the series has yet to lay out a definite direction in which it will proceed for the rest of the season. Regardless, “Atlanta” has gotten off to a terrifically promising start.

    “Atlanta” does not resemble anything else currently on television. It unfolds from Glover’s own personal experiences growing up in Atlanta, and definitely feels like it was told through the eyes of someone who has lived it first hand.

    The series also proves difficult to label as it resembles more of a drama than a comedy thus far, though it has elements of both and will most certainly make you laugh.

    However, simply churning out punchlines is not the goal of this series. It takes a different approach. “Atlanta” aims to depict a somewhat realistic human experience.

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    You get a strong sense that this might really be what many people go through every day while trying to provide for themselves. The show’s humanizing realism is reminiscent of what Louis C.K. tries to accomplish with “Louie.”

    Some parts of the series make the show’s reality feel just a little bit heightened, but it generally feels quite authentic. Ultimately, the series feels like a passion project for Glover. He uses all the skills he has acquired so far in his career to make this show into what it is, from acting to writing to directing to even making the music.

    In “Atlanta,” Donald Glover showcases his ability to create engaging characters, provide social commentary and depict life on screen in a way that feels natural. For what has been an underwhelming year for film and television, “Atlanta” makes a refreshingly ambitious mark.

    The series proves that Donald Glover has the chops for making his own series, and having him play anything but leading man would be a waste of his remarkable talent.

    Don’t expect to get overwrought with laughter from this show, but definitely tune in for everything that it has to offer.

    “Atlanta” airs Tuesday nights on FX.

    Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter

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